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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DuPont Plant Gas Leak Kills Four – Attorney Brent Coon files Temporary Restraining Order Against Dupont

On Saturday morning, hazardous gas from the DuPont plant in La Port, Texas, claimed the lives of four workers while injuring one other.  Chrystle Rae Wise, local resident and employee of DuPont, was among those tragically killed on the job when deadly Methyl Mercaptan gas apparently leaked.   Ms. Wise is survived by her only daughter, Jasmine Rae Wise, who stated, "We suffered a devastating loss of losing Crystle Wise during an on the job accident. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to all the other families affected by this tragedy. We hope that closure will come with answers in future reports. Special thanks to all first responders involved in containment and recovery efforts."

Jasmine, a 34 year old resident of Houston,  has retained the Texas based law firm, Brent Coon & Associates, to represent her and the estate.  The firm is widely regarded as one of the top law firms in the country and has extensive history of litigation in the petrochemical industry.   Several years ago, Brent Coon led a grueling fight against  British Petroleum following the 2005 Texas City plant explosion that took the lives of 15 workers, including James and Linda Rowe, the parents of BCA client Eva Rowe.  His firm reached a landmark settlement on behalf of Ms. Rowe that included $44 million dollars of charitable contributions dedicated to further worker’s safety and burn treatment protocols.  Hundreds of additional claims were ultimately resolved after months in trial. Brent worked directly with multiple investigative agencies, including the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the Department of Justice, and the incident and ensuing  litigation resulted in sweeping reforms to the petrochemical industry.

Sunday, U.S. Chemical Safety  & Hazard Investigation  Board spokesman Sandy Gilmour stated a seven-person investigative team led by the agency's director, Daniel Horowitz, had already arrived at the Dupont plant.  Coon’s firm has already been in contact with the agency and advised they will again share whatever evidence is uncovered. 

In addition to filing a TRO to preserve the evidence while investigating the cause of the leak Saturday, Mr. Coon said his law firm has filed suit on behalf of Ms. Wise.  “Our first goal is to preserve evidence and initiate our own independent investigation of what transpired. Internal company investigations are usually self-serving and protecting in nature and unreliable, typically pointing the finger at low level employees when the incidents are most often caused by management driven shortcuts”. 

Brent Coon personally penned the “Remember the Fifteen” Bill, introducing it at the Texas State Capitol in efforts to make an entire industry more accountable for its actions.  The firm continues to undertake a high profile position in various petrochemical industry cases and is the largest stakeholder in the BP oil spill litigation, representing over 10,000 clients from Florida to Texas.

“Once again,” said Coon, “we see these companies place their workers in undue harm to pad the bottom line.  And this ‘profits over people’ mentality continues to cause unnecessary and unjust accidents resulting in serious injury or death.”  Mr. Coon envisions pursuing a similar course of action against DuPont.  “We will not only seeking justice for Jasmine and the others harmed from this incident, but  we will keep  the heat on an entire industry.  Hopefully we can use this tragedy as an opportunity to renew our call-to-action for the creation of a state-based OSHA agency for Texas to oversee safety issues at industrial workplaces.” said Coon.  “Texas has the highest workplace injury levels in the country, and this industry needs much greater oversight of their safety and health programs.  It is frankly unconscionable that a company as sophisticated as Dupont would allow any work to be done in a manner that would result in four workers being gassed to death at their facility. Proper protective gear should always be mandated  and utilized when working in any conditions that put a worker at risk to exposure to poison gas.   Unfortunately, many companies still find the use of canaries as a cheaper alternative”.

Read more about Brent Coon Filing a  Temporary Restraining Order Against Dupont

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