Contracting companies deny allegations in jet explosion lawsuit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 17, 2013


An engineering company blamed in a jet explosion incident denies the allegations and demands a jury trial in an employee’s personal injury case.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 29, plaintiff James Smith claims he was working as a construction worker removing clogged jets from drilling equipment when a broken jet he was repairing exploded on Sept. 2, 2011.

“While removing a clogged jet, the jet exploded away from the drilling rig, striking the plaintiff at a high velocity, causing him serious and permanent injuries,” the suit states.

Defendant US Steel Corp. had a contract with a company to build a primary quench tower foundation at Granite City Works. Smith blames US Steel for causing his injuries, saying it negligently failed to require that the drilling rib depressurized when he removed the jet, in addition to other negligent acts.

The project’s general contractor Bowen Engineering Corporation was named a defendant for allegedly failing to require the installation of a pressure gauge that would be visible to Smith, failing to require that the operator of the equipment be competent, failing to require the installation of operating controls permitting depressurization and failing to require that properly functioning equipment be utilized on the job site.

Subcontractor Hatch Engineering is also named a defendant.

Smith was previously awarded $80,000 in arbitration on Feb. 17, according to court filings. Approximately $35,000 of that award was given for medical bills. The remainder was given to make up for lost wages.

Defendant Bowen Engineering Corporation filed an answer to the complaint through attorney Paul M. Rauschenbach of the Law Office of Craig A. Hansen and Paul M. Rauschenbach in St. Louis on Oct. 10 denying the allegations against it and demanding a trial by jury.

Bowen also filed affirmative defenses stating that any injuries were caused by the plaintiff’s own negligence. He accuses the plaintiff of failing to make sure there was no pressure on the clogged jets before working to unclog them, failing to make sure that the jets he was working to unclog were pointed away from him, failing to follow proper safety instructions while unclogging the jets, failing to keep a careful lookout for his own safety and failing to take proper precautions for his own safety.

Bowen’s second affirmative defense blames the acts of third parties for causing any injuries to Smith. It blames the third parties of failing to require that the drilling rig be depressurized when Smith removed the jet, failing to require the installation or use of a pressure gauge visible to Smith from his assigned work area, failing to properly train Smith in how to unclog the referenced jets, failing to properly supervise Smith while he was unclogging the referenced jets, failing to require the installation of operating controls permitting depressurization while Smith was assigned to his work area and failing to require that proper functioning equipment be utilized on the job site.

Its third affirmative defense claims that if it is found liable, then it should be less than 25 percent at fault.

Defendant Hatch Associates Consultants filed a notice of removal to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in East St. Louis through attorneys J. Hayes Ryan and Paul Gamboa of Gordon & Rees LLP in Chicago on Oct. 11.

Reasons for the notice of removal include satisfying the procedural requirements for removal, diversity of citizens and judgment amount.

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Smith seeks a judgment of more than $100,000.

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge is presiding over the case.

William S. Beatty of Beatty, Motil and Jones in Glen Carbon is representing the plaintiff.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-1482

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