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One Family Settles with Dupont Over Fatal Chemical Spill

10/14/15

By Dianna Wray

The family of Crystle Wise, one of the workers killed at DuPont's La Porte plant in November 2014, has reached a settlement with the company.

The settlement came in the wake of a scathing set of recommendations issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board two weeks ago. The board began its investigation after tragedy struck at a DuPont facility on November 15, 2014 inside a pesticide manufacturing unit at the company’s La Porte Plant. According to federal investigators, more than 20,000 pounds of methyl mercaptan — which, even in small doses, can attack the nervous system and trigger death by respiratory paralysis — unexpectedly spewed into the third floor of the plant’s pesticide unit when veteran operator Wise opened a faulty valve on her early morning shift. Wise and the three men who rushed in to help her and other workers — Wade Baker and brothers Robert and Gilbert Tisnado — also died from the toxic fumes.

As federal investigators began looking into the accident, there were troubling disclosures about the conditions Wise, Baker and the Tisnado brothers were working under. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration came out with its findings on the DuPont accident earlier this year, unequivocally blaming the four deaths on DuPont’s failure to fix persistent problems at the La Porte Plant. OSHA then fined the company about as much as it can under federal law: For more than a dozen willful, repeat or serious violations at the La Porte plant, OSHA has fined DuPont about $370,000, pocket change for a company that posted $35.7 billion in revenue in 2013.

While CSB investigators don't have the power to fine the companies they investigate, their investigation reports can be incredibly influential.

Even though the final DuPont investigation report has yet to be released, CSB came to Houston two weeks ago and presented their interim report publicly. The board's interim report refuted DuPont's longstanding claim that the accident was caused due to operator error. The CSB investigators found that many of the systems that should have been in place to prevent such accidents were not, and that some of the safety precautions and systems that were in place were defective and never replaced, fixed or even tested for their effectiveness. Safety failures included a lack of proper warning systems, respiratory protection and ventilation systems, along with a handful of other major deviations from industry and DuPont’s own safety system protocols.

The families of the victims filed lawsuits against DuPont shortly after the accident. Brent Coon, the lawyer representing Wise's family, says that the blame for the accident rests squarely on DuPont. "Every person, and every company, should be judged not by their words but by their deeds. DuPont has talked up their industry leadership in safety for decades," Coon said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, from what we have proven in this case and what we know from a string of recent fatalities and injuries at other DuPont facilities, they have not been practicing what they preached."

Wise's family announced the settlement on Wednesday for an undisclosed amount. The settlement also requires DuPont to have a moment of silence recognizing the tragedy and those killed on the anniversary of the incident system-wide for the next decade and contribute to the American Humane Society in Wise's honor, according to a statement sent out by Coon.

“My family recognizes that money will not bring my mom back. Hopefully, getting everyone at DuPont to take a moment every year to remember our losses will also help them remember to do all the right things going forward so that tragedies like this do not happen again," Jasmine Wise said in a statement. "I hope the settlement leads to saving human lives in this industry and also the lives of the animals my mom loved so much. My mom was a very kind and generous person and she moved and went to work at this plant just last year to be closer to me and my young son. I know in my heart that she is proud of the actions I have taken to try to make something good out of something so horribly bad.”

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HISD LOSES TWO BIG LAWSUITS IN SWEEPING 38 PAGE VERDICT

June 11, 2017, 3:21 pm

Jury hits HISD with over $7,000,000.00 in damages on one suit, and denies any recovery to HISD as a Plaintiff in their own $13 Million dollar lawsuit.  

A unanimous Houston jury told HISD they were wrong to breach five construction contracts with a local building contractor Friday evening after a full day of deliberations. In the same 38 page verdict, the jury also told HISD that their countersuit against the contractor, Fort Bend Mechanical, along with their bonding agent, Hanover Insurance, and yet a third defendant HISD sued for defective field testing of foundations had ZERO merit and awarded no damages against any of the three defendants and awarded zero legal costs to HISD.  Fort Bend Mechanical had sought almost $9 Million in damages at trial for what they alleged were multiple and repeated contract violations over the course of six construction jobs with the school district emanating from the 2007 School Bond, which had provided for almost a billion dollars in renovations to over 100 HISD campuses.  The jury of 7 women and 5 men agreed with most of the complaints asserted by Fort Bend Mechanical, and awarded damages and legal fees in excess of $7 million dollars in their verdict, which came in early Friday evening in the 151st Harris County District Court before Judge Michael Engelhart.


4 New Lawsuits Filed Over the Waco Biker Shooting

May 8, 2017, 11:56 pm

What does Patch Adams have to do with the Waco Biker shooting?

A lot.  The overzealous Waco Police Department clearly stumbled and bumbled through the debacle of the Waco motorcycle tragedy of May 2015 at the Twin Peaks restaurant in what is likely the worst police operation initiated by law enforcement in the history of Texas, including the fiasco of the Branch Davidian storming that killed dozens of innocent women and children outside of Waco over 20 years ago (which resulted in far more civilian casualties than the recent gas attacks by Assad of Syria).  James Harris, a college student in Austin and a devout motorcycle rider, was one of the 200 motorcycle club members from the region taking a relaxing ride to Waco on the morning of Sunday, May 17, 2015, to hear what was going on legislatively in the motorcycling community through a briefing sponsored by the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents.


Father of Worker Killed at PCA Plant Explosion Files Multimillion Dollar Suit.

May 2, 2017, 10:02 am

The father of one of the three workers killed in a packaging facility explosion two months ago has now filed suit in Houston.  He explains his feelings and relationship with his son, facts known about the incident to date, and what he hopes to achieve with the lawsuit.  His attorney, Brent Coon of Houston, elaborates on the incident and expresses concern for the possible closing of the CSB, which is charged with investigating fatal chemical explosions across America, something that could significantly change industrial facility operations and increase safety and health risk factors. More details are below, and the office can be contacted for further information on this breaking story


Houston Police Department caught red-handed illegally engaging in a home invasion and covering it up by destroying security system: Damages Suit filed by Law Firm for Homeowner

March 3, 2017, 9:34 am

In one of the most egregious examples of police excess and violation of law perpetrated by HPD in recent times, two separate security systems from two different homeowners caught an HPD police officer and another uniformed officer illegally break into a Harris County home, destroy their surveillance system, illegally search the home with no one there, illegally go through their mail, and leave the home with the door open before the homeowners arrived back to their residence.


Jury Awards War Hero Over 1 Million Dollars

November 9, 2016, 3:22 pm

Today a jury verdict was returned regarding a lawsuit filed against Woven Metal Products, Inc. on behalf of Jacob Matthew Cadriel, who was killed on the job by a co-worker, Steven Damien Young.  This tragic incident took place on April 1, 2015. On that date and on Woven Metal Products, Inc.’s workplace premises, co-worker Steven Damien Young reached into his waistband, pulled out a 38-caliber handgun and shot and killed Jacob.  Young was arrested and charged with murder, and is now serving a 45 year sentence.


Deepwater Horizon Film Puts Spotlight on Disaster

October 3, 2016, 5:11 pm

The motion picture depicting the 2010 Gulf oil spill hits theaters nationwide this weekend.  So what, if anything, has changed since the Deepwater Horizon blast killed 11 oil rig workers?

Attorney Brent Coon represented one of the workers who escaped the rig; he hopes the film brings more attention to what really happened and how little regulation there is in the drilling industry still today.


Used cars with recalls being sold with 'no open recalls'

August 17, 2016, 8:49 am

Buying a used car instead of a new one almost always makes good economic sense, unless you end up in Ann Nogast's old 2011 Honda Pilot.

"Because it's going to be some innocent family that ends up the next possible fatality," Nogast said.


Seven injured in Explosion

August 14, 2016, 11:23 pm

Seven people were injured, including four critically, in an explosion at a Texas crude-oil plant, authorities said.


A Flood of Oil Spill Lawsuits Expected Against BP this Month

May 9, 2016, 9:02 am

Despite the $20 billion settlement BP PLC struck with the U.S. Department of Justice over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, tens of thousands of lawsuits could hit the courts this month, adding to the oil company’s ballooning costs.


STATEMENT TO THE TAXPAYERS OF JEFFERSON COUNTY AND THE MEDIA

May 2, 2016, 6:22 pm

Those who have followed the Jefferson County Appraisal District (JCAD) case and story for the last year should be already aware that we have spent the duration of that period attempting to collect information and data on what we believed was an unfair rescheduling of  1.5 level homes.



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