Class action filed in explosion at vinyl factory

Kyle Barnett Mar. 28, 2012, 7:00am

DONALDSONVILLE – A class action lawsuit has been filed by members of a community in Ascension Parish who were in the area of a vinyl factory where an explosion occurred.

Frederick Hollins, Laura Hollins and Shanice Hills are the named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed in the 23rd Judicial District on March 23 against Westlake Vinyls Company and Westlake Chemicals Corporation.

The plaintiffs claim they were injured by being in the proximate area, within a one mile radius, when an explosion occurred at Westlake Vinyls Company in Geismar in Ascension Parish. Due to the incident the plaintiffs allege a large amount of gaseous chemicals were released in the nearby environment including vinyl chloride, hydrochloric acid and chlorine. In addition, the plaintiffs claim they were inconvenienced by road closures in the area and the closure of the Mississippi River to maritime traffic for several hours. The defendants are accused of causing the explosion and fire and the release of harmful chemicals.

The plaintiffs seek to find the defendants negligent for releasing a harmful substance into the atmosphere where members of the public would come in contact with it, failing to properly handle hazardous materials, allowing the existence of a hazardous situation, failing to warn the plaintiffs to keep away from the substance, failing to properly inspect the equipment and plant, disregarding the safety of others, failing to maintain safe procedures, faulty hiring practices, failing to avoid or minimize the accident, failing to properly react to the accident, failing to warn public in a timely manner, owning dangerous or defective equipment and failing to bring the situation under control in timely manner.

An amount less than $75,000 per plaintiff is sought for personal injuries and symptoms related to the incident including fear, fright and mental anguish.

The plaintiffs are represented by Darryl J. Becnel of the Reserve-based Becnel Law Firm.

The case has been assigned to Division E Judge Alvin Turner, Jr.

Case number 103223

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