In 2013, an explosion at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar, Louisiana claimed the lives of 2 workers and injured 114 others. Following the accident, numerous lawsuits were filed by those injured in the blast. Now, after years of litigation, it appears that one of those cases will finally go to trial.
Williams Loses Motion for Summary Judgment
As is often the case in industrial accident cases and other complex lawsuits, the defendants in the Williams cases sought to keep the case from going to trial. This is typically accomplished by asking the court to grant “summary judgment,” a ruling that there are no issues for the jury to decide and that the case should be decided by the judge before trial. In some of the Williams cases, however, the judge denied summary judgment, meaning that the first case, consisting of five plaintiffs, will go to trial in September 2016.
Workers Compensation Immunity Overcome by Plaintiffs
One of the key issues in the case is whether Williams should be protected from being sued by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. Under Louisiana law, an injured worker cannot bring a negligence claim against his employer. In addition, a worker who is deemed to be a statutory employee or borrowed employee of another company, cannot sue that company.
But, there is an exception to workers’ compensation immunity if the conduct that causes a worker’s injury is intentional. The requirement of intent is satisfied if a company knew that injury was likely to result from a particular action. In the Williams explosion case, the plaintiffs argued that Williams knew that the reboiler that caused the accident lacked the proper equipment to avoid an explosion.
Other Issues Relating to Williams Olefins Explosion
In addition to the numerous civil suits that were filed, Williams also had to pay $36,000 in fines to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and another $194,000 in fines to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
Injured an Industrial Accident?
If you’ve been injured in an industrial, plant, or refinery accident, The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call (504) 564-7342 to discuss your case with an injury lawyer today. There is no charge for an initial consultation.