LP tank explosion leads to suit against Amerigas and others

Kelly Holleran Aug. 23, 2011, 8:23am

A St. Clair County man and his wife have filed suit against the manufacturers of a gas tank that they say contained a gas leak, causing an explosion.

Willie and Shirley Vaughn claim Willie Vaughn was working at an industrial facility in Washington Park on July 28, 2009, and was using an L.P. tank when it exploded.

"Plaintiff, Willie Vaughn, was unable to stop the flow of gas, leading to Willie Vaughn being enveloped in flame and to the explosion of said L.P. tank while being used in the usual and customary manner by the Plaintiff, or in the manner in which said Defendant should have reasonably anticipated," the suit filed July 27 in St. Clair County Circuit Court states.

The incident occurred after the gas tank's pressure valve and coupling devices failed, according to the complaint. In addition, the tank's control knob failed to prevent gas from leaking from the tank despite being in the off position, the complaint says.

Because of the incident, Willie Vaughn sustained internal and external injuries and sustained a severe shock and damage to his nervous system, according to the complaint. In addition, he experienced prolonged physical pain, mental anguish and suffering and incurred medical costs, the complaint says.

Shirley Vaughn claims she lost her husband's care, comfort, support and companionship.

Defendants include the gas tank's manufacturer, Amerigas; gas tank manufacturer, Worthington Industries; gas tank part manufacturer, Omega Engineering; and gas tank part manufacturer, Engineered Controls International.

The Vaughns also name Bakery Trading Company and Gateway Co-Packing Acquisition as defendants. The companies owned the premises at 901 Kingshighway in Washington Park where Willie Vaughn was working at the time of the collision, according to the complaint.

The manufacturer defendants negligently designed a tank and parts that would likely malfunction, designed a tank and parts with inadequate safety devices, designed a tank that would likely cause severe injuries to people using it, failed to provide adequate instructions regarding the necessary periodic inspections of the tank and failed to install certain protections to prevent the devices from becoming dangerous, among other negligent acts, according to the complaint.

In their complaint, the Vaughns are seeking a judgment of more than $700,000.

They will be represented by Michael L. McGlynn of McGlynn and McGlynn in Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-422.

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