Electricians claim toxic exposure working at ConocoPhillips

Kelly Holleran Oct. 25, 2011, 9:46am

Three electricians have filed suit against Bechtel Construction Company, Conocophillips Company, Jarrett Industries, WRB Refining and Wegman Electric Company, alleging they were exposed to toxic substances that leaked from a tank.

Alan Arnold, Charles Ploesser and Christopher Morton claim they were working as electricians for Wegman Electric Company on Oct. 20, 2010, at the ConocoPhillips Company in Wood River when they were exposed to the substances.

The plaintiffs were working near a D-10 tank that had spilled caustic materials. Jarrett Industries was cleaning up the toxic substances. Despite the clean-up efforts, however, Arnold, Ploesser and Morton claim they were exposed to "noxious fumes emanating from the D-10 truck."

As a result of their inhalation of the dangerous conditions, the plaintiffs experienced stomach pain, respiratory injuries, shortness of breath and burning and tingling sensations, according to the complaint filed Oct. 13 in Madison County Circuit Court. In addition, they incurred medical costs, experienced great pain and suffering, sustained disability and disfigurement and lost their normal life, the suit states.

The plaintiffs allege Jarrett Industries negligently allowed caustic fumes to be released from the truck, failed to utilize equipment to reduce the plaintiffs' exposure to chemicals, improperly used equipment to contain the fumes and failed to inspect equipment to make sure if was improper working order, among other negligent acts.

The plaintiffs also name ConocoPhillips Company and WRB Refining as defendants, saying they negligently allowed inadequate equipment to be utilized at its facilities, failed to adequately inspect the equipment being used at the facilities, failed to provide Jarrett Industries with adequate instruction to remove the materials, failed to conduct tests on the caustic substances and failed to warn the plaintiffs of the dangers associated with the substances.

In their eight-count complaint, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment of more than $350,000.

Michael R. Bilbrey, James R. Stever and Michael V. Oltmann of the Law Offices of Michael R. Bilbrey in Glen Carbon will be representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 2011-L-1048.

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