May 19, 2018 – Pasadena, TX – A fire and explosion occurred at the Kuraray America chemical plant in Pasadena early Saturday morning, injuring at least 21 workers while several burn victims required airlifting to local hospitals. The blast apparently occurred when the hazardous and highly flammable chemical ethylene began to leak from a malfunctioning valve, leading to the flash fire and explosion. Many more workers were left badly shaken. At the time of the explosion, around 270 workers were inside the facility.
Bradley Dodd, a contractor and pipefitter helper, working for Force Corporation was within 100 feet of the blast, and said he heard a loud ‘hissing sound’ for a few seconds prior to the explosion. He was knocked down by the force of the blast and proceeded to get up and ‘run away from the area as fast as he could.
The Beaumont –based law firm, Brent Coon and Associates, along with attorney Brooks Harrison, have already been retained by and agree to represent a number of workers that were impacted by the explosion. Brent Coon & Associates, who serve as District Counsel for the United Steelworkers District 13, is widely regarded as one of the top chemical, petrochemical, and refinery law firms in the world. Brent Coon led the fight against British Petroleum following the 2005 plant explosion that took the life of 15 workers, including James and Linda Rowe, the parents of BCA client Eva Rowe. His firm reached a settlement on behalf of Ms. Rowe that included $32 million dollars of charitable contributions dedicated to further worker’s safety.
The US Chemical Safety Board is currently at the Kuraray facility investigating the explosion. BCA has previously worked closely with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board in the BP Texas City explosion investigation and achieved national acclaim by releasing 7 million confidential BP documents on its website, www.texascityexplosion.com.
Brent Coon personally penned the “Remember the 15” Bill, introducing it at the Texas State Capitol in efforts to make an entire industry more accountable for its actions. The goal of this bill is to develop and implement administrative rules which will help ensure that employers provide a safe and healthful work environment for all of their employees.
In 2014, Crystle Rae Wise, local South East Texas resident and employee of DuPont Chemical, was one of 4 people tragically killed on the job when a container of Methyl Mercaptan apparently malfunctioned. BCA represented Ms. Wise’s only surviving daughter who received a major settlement and, working with Mr. Coon, was able to award the local ASPCA over $100,000 in a collaborative donation.
“Serious injury in any workplace incident is tragic and heartbreaking for everyone, especially to the family of the worker. What is most damning in almost all refinery injuries is that the root cause invariably has something to do with the company’s decision not to reinvest some of their enormous profits back into the facility with improved working conditions and safety considerations, says Brent Coon. “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 Kuraray American. “We’re not only seeking justice for our Kararay clients, we are keeping the heat on an entire industry. This is our 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.
ABOUT BCA: Brent Coon & Associates was founded in 2001. Today, with multiple satellite offices around the country and hundreds of associated firms in various practice areas, it is one of the most recognized trial law firms in the nation and the epitome of the 21st century law practice. Brent Coon & Associates employs a full complement of aggressive litigators with solid experience in individual and complex multi-party, occupational/environmental, health and personal injury cases.
BCA is a public policy firm and has worked with numerous state and federal investigative agencies, including the Department of Justice, multiple state Attorneys General, OSHA, and the United States Chemical and Hazards Investigation Board. BCA serves as institutional or advisory counsel to numerous agencies and organizations, including the United Steelworkers, pilot unions, railroad and other transportation unions. Their work in this arena has led to widespread improvements in the safety and working conditions of industries throughout America and abroad.
The firm and founder have been repeatedly recognized by most leading journals and legal associations including Texas Lawyer Litigation Department of the Year (2013); Forbes “Lawyer of the Month” and Forbes ‘Top 75 Litigation Firms; MTMP “Clarence Darrow Award”; Texas Monthly Superlawyers, U.S. News & World Reports Top Law Firms and numerous other accolades.