Contract worker's suit against Formosa from May 2 flash fire ongoing

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Sept. 13, 2013 at 4:13 a.m.
Updated Sept. 14, 2013 at 4:14 a.m.

Only one of the 14 workers injured in a May 2 flash fire has sued Formosa Plastics Corp.

His attorney, David Bryant, of Houston, says he hopes more people with information about that incident and the most recent one rocking the Point Comfort plant step forward.

Steven Vasquez, an employee of Palacios Marine & Industrial, or PMI, sued the company and its plant manager Randy Smith on June 14.

Vasquez was climbing down from scaffolding near an out-of-service reactor in the polyethylene unit when the reactor's pressure spiked.

It erupted shortly after, engulfing him in super heated air and burning more than 60 percent of his body, according to court records.

"We are in the process of trying to determine exactly what happened," Bryant said Friday. "There is some testing that is taking place - testing of the materials that were contained in the vessel that exploded that will help us determine the cause of the fire."

"My client and his employer did not contribute to what happened. It is our position that Formosa is entirely responsible for the events that occurred on May 2," Bryant added.

Formosa denied the claims and asked the court to limit the amount of recovery Vasquez may seek in accordance with the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code.

Formosa's attorney William Seerden, of Victoria, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Vasquez, no age available, of Victoria County, was released about a month ago from Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. It is unclear now whether he will ever return to work, Bryant said.

Attorneys are gathering police, fire department and Occupational Safety and Health Administration documents. No court date has been set, he said.

Eight people lost a civil suit against Formosa in 2009.

More than 40 plaintiffs involved in that case, which claimed Formosa was negligent when fires broke out at the Calhoun County plant in 2005, have yet to have their day in court as of Friday, according to the Calhoun County District Clerk's Office.



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