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NBC: Brent Coon & Associates to file lawsuit on behalf of workers injured in Louisiana plant explosion

June 23, 2013, 6:42 pm

Brent Coon & Associates will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of three workers who were injured in an explosion at a Geismar chemical plant on June 13th that killed two people and injured 74 others. The lawsuit, to be filed on behalf of Rigoberto Rios, Manuel Escobedo and Manuel Escobedo Jr, alleges Williams Olefins, the company that operates the plant, of being negligent in the maintenance of their equipment.

Rios, a contract worker, was working on some scaffolding when he heard the first explosion. While attempting to flee the area, the force from a second explosion roughly 100 feet away knocked him off of the scaffolding and sent Rios falling to the pavement. Rios suffered severe back injuries and PTSD. He sought medical attention that is provided by the company, but has only been seen by one doctor who simply prescribed him pain medication. He was not offered any chiropractic services or given an MRI to assess the severity of his injuries. Escobedo and Escobedo Jr also sustained injuries as a result of the explosion.

The three men were pipefitters assigned to fix leaky pipes that had failed to pass OSHA safety inspections. They say the plant had previously received over 70 OSHA citations. After being assigned to the Geismar plant, the workers say that Williams Olefins did not provide any safety training, nor were they advised of an emergency evacuation plan in the event of an accident. After the explosion, workers scrambled to find an open exit out of the plant, but the nearest exit gate was locked. Escobedo says a co-worker was forced to drive through the gate in a company work truck in order to break the lock.

As a public policy law firm, Brent Coon & Associates is no stranger to taking on the petrochemical industry and forcing change in legislation and workplace safety standards. Founder Brent Coon served as Lead Counsel in the litigation stemming from the 2005 refinery explosion at the BP plant in Texas City, TX. The explosion killed 15 workers and injured hundreds more. Coon reached a settlement with BP that forced the company to make public the seven million documents his firm had uncovered. As a part of the settlement, BP also agreed to contribute over $40 million dollars to various charities, organizations and educational institutions that focus on improving process safety within the petrochemical industry. Coon wrote and introduced to the Texas State Congress the “Remember The 15” bill, which sought new legislation to improve safety conditions throughout the industry.

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