Company blamed for negligence when employee’s clothing caught fire file counterclaim against US Steel

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Dec 2, 2013



Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth granted third-party defendant Fosbel Global Services’ motion for leave to file counterclaims against third-party plaintiff United States Steel Corp. in a lawsuit alleging an employee’s supposedly fire-proof clothing caught fire.

According to the original complaint filed Nov. 2, 2009, Anthony Redmond claims he was severely burned after flames from a coke oven battery engulfed the clothing he was required to wear.

Defendant Fosbel Global Services allegedly provided the plaintiff with the clothing for his job, which was supposed to be fire proof, fire retardant and heat resistant, the complaint states.

Shortly after the incident, the pants Redmond were wearing when he was burned were taken from the emergency room and were allegedly misplaced, lost or tampered with, his attorney claims, and the whereabouts of that evidence is currently unknown, the suit states.

Redmond claims he was working for defendant Fosbel Global Services at a US Steel plant on Dec. 13, 2008, when he was injured.

Redmond blames US Steel for requiring him to wear the clothing, which was not adequately flame proof, failing to ensure the clothing was fire retardant and failing to preserve evidence, the suit states.

Fosbel filed the counterclaim on Oct. 8, through attorney Stephen J. Maassen of Hoadglan, Fitzgerald & Pranaitis in Alton, denying any liability to the plaintiff. However, it argues that if it is found liable, “then under such circumstances, Fosbel is entitled to contribution from US Steel as a result of its negligent spoliation of evidence … which caused or contributed to cause plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages.”

Fosbel claims US Steel demanded the burned pants from it and then voluntarily undertook possession and control of the evidence. It further alleges US Steel lost or destroyed the pants.

“US Steel’s losing or destroying the pants was the direct and proximate cause of the injuries and damages for which plaintiff complains, thereby amounting to negligent spoliation of evidence," it claims. 

Fosbel claims it is unable to properly defend itself in the third-party complaint asserted by US Steel without the lost or destroyed evidence.

“Fosbel is unable to ascertain if the pants were defective, laundered improperly and/or contained a contaminant, thereby making it impossible for Fosbel to succeed on any potential claims against the manufacturer of the pants, launderer of the pants, and/or owner of the pants,” the counterclaim states.

Steel Grip Inc., Westex Inc, Choctawkaul Distribution Co., and Clean The Uniform Company are also named defendants.

David W. Dugan of East Alton is representing Redmond.

Jeffrey K. Suess and Susan M. Herold of Rynearson, Suess, Schnurdbusch & Champion in St. Louis are representing US Steel.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 09-L-1163

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