Class action: Cytec Industries sued over ammonia leak

Michelle Massey Jul. 16, 2010, 3:45am

A recently filed class action blames faulty equipment and negligent operation for a July 2009 ammonia leak at a Cytec plant.

On behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Carol Bernhard filed suit against Cytec Industries, Cytec Ammonia and/or Cytec Melamine July 6 in federal court in New Orleans.

In July 2009, a power failure at the Cytec plant in Waggaman, caused an ammonia leak. However, Bernhard says this is not the first ammonia leak at the plant and that the company had a history of discharging ammonia into the environment because of faulty equipment and negligent operation.

"Cytec was aware that a power outage would cause multiple equipment failure at the plant, but did not provide for automatic shutoff or backup power," the lawsuit reads.

The defendants are accused of negligence for releasing a hazardous, harmful and toxic substance into the atmosphere, failing to properly handle and contain the harmful substance and for allowing to exist a hazardous situation consisting of faulty and insufficient procedures and work practices.

Bernhard also argues Cytec failed to properly warn the public to keep away from the substance, failed to timely warn, failed to timely bring the situation under control, failed to properly inspect their equipment and plant facility to assure equipment and personnel were fit for their intended purposes, and acted in a careless and negligent manner without due regard for the safety of others.

The lawsuit claims Cytec is negligent for conducting an abnormally dangerous and/or ultra-hazardous activity and strict liability for creating a public and/or private nuisance.

On behalf of the class, Bernhard is seeking more than $5 million in damages for personal injuries, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of income, loss of the beneficial use, enjoyment and exclusive possession of their property, physical and emotional pain and suffering, attorney fees, interest and court costs.

The proposed class is represented by Jennifer Willis and William Buckley of Willis & Buckley in New Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv01905

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