Gas Explosion Injuries Attorneys - Bailey Javins & Carter

Industrial Explosion at West Virginia Plant Leaves Two with Fatal Injuries

On Wednesday May 24, 2017, a terrible industrial accident at a West Virginia natural gas odorization facility, Midland Resource Recovery, left two of the plant’s workers with fatal injuries, and another seriously harmed. According to reports published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail and U.S. News, the Barbour County explosion is currently being investigated, with important questions about what happened yet to be answered.

Report Indicates Workers Were Using Chemicals at Time of Blast

According to a report that was phoned in to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the workers involved in the blast – whose names have yet to be released – were cleaning a mercaptan tank when the incident occurred. Mercaptan is the chemical that is associated with a rotten egg smell, and is added to natural gas (which is otherwise odorless) in order to make it detectable. Typically, the biggest concern regarding mercaptan is inhalation and acute industrial exposure, which could lead to death in severe cases; combustion is not often a concern.

The explosion occurred within the empty tank, and news reports imply that the cause may have had something to do with chemicals that workers were using to clean the mercaptan tank. It is believed that workers were using bleach.

Little General Store Propane Explosion

The incident at Midland Resource Recovery is a painful reminder of the Little General Store, a gas and convenience store, propane explosion that occurred in Ghent, West Virginia, in January of 2007. Details published by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reveal that the incident occurred when vapors from a propane storage tank ignited, causing the explosion that left four people dead and five others seriously injured.

Investigating Serious Workplace Accidents

When an explosion happens, federal agencies step in to investigate the precise cause of the explosion and make recommendations moving forward. The CSB conducted a thorough investigation on the Little General Store incident, ultimately uncovering that the cause was leaked vapors, as noted above.

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the CSB have already taken an active role in determining the cause of the Midland Resource Recovery blast. A spokeswoman for the CSB told reporters that the natural gas odorization company had been contacted with a request for additional information; once information is received by the CSB, it will be thoroughly reviewed, and the agency will determine whether or not it needs to send a team of investigators to the site.

An OSHA spokesperson said that OSHA had launched an investigation. The spokesperson also stated that OSHA had no record of inspecting the Barbour County facility in the past five years.

Damages for Families of West Virginia Victims

Details of the injuries of the worker who survived the blast have not been published, but the worker was transported to Ruby Memorial Hospital via helicopter, implying severe harm. Injuries that are common in explosion accidents include serious burn injuries, blunt trauma injuries, amputation injuries, middle ear damage, hemorrhage, fracture, traumatic brain injury, and blast lung. These injury types can make returning to life as normal impossible, potentially leaving the affected victim dependent on medical care for the remainder of their life. This can be extremely painful, and psychologically challenging, for the affected victim and their family. Injuries of this nature and severity are also associated with economic losses.

The families of the workers who were killed suffered greatly too, even if their injuries are not physical. Losing a loved one, a partner, a child, a parent, a friend, an income earner, and someone you depend upon and cherish is a devastating experience.

To all of those affected by this tragic accident, the West Virginia gas explosion attorneys at the offices of Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. want to offer our deepest condolences.

When gas explosions change lives and leave victims and their families with irreversible harm, our legal team will advocate for you. Our experienced West Virginia gas explosion lawyers can represent you in seeking compensation for your losses in the form of economic and non-economic damages, and will work hard to help you understand your rights to pursue damages and hold the negligent party liable for harm. Bailey Javins & Carter, L.C. was one of the leading law firms in helping victims of the Little General Store recover the compensation they deserved, and can help you, too. Contact us today at (304) 345-0346 for your free consultation and more information.

 

 

 

 

Causes of Drilling Accidents

Natural Gas Accidents: The Risks Involved with Exploration, Production, Storage and Transportation

Natural gas accidents and explosions are more common than most people would like to think about, especially when considering that many homes and businesses in West Virginia, and throughout the United States, rely on natural gas as a source of fuel. And while home and business natural gas accidents do indeed happen, most serious accidents involve the exploration, production, storage, and transportation of natural gas.

What Causes a Natural Gas Explosion?

To understand the dangers of natural gas, it is important to understand that natural gas is explosive and there are various conditions that can lead to a natural gas explosion. According to an article published by The Atlantic and written by Nicholas Kawa, an environmental anthropologist at Ball State University, natural gas is explosive when mixed with air at a concentration of between five and 15 percent. This means that natural gas leaks – which are another thing that are much more common than anyone would like to think about – are problematic, and may be extremely dangerous when just a small amount of natural gas is leaking into an enclosed space.

Natural Gas Explosion Statistics

Natural gas explosions kill more than a dozen people every year, with an average of 17 lives being lost per year in natural gas combustion incidents. In addition to deaths, there are dozens of people who are seriously injured in natural gas accidents. Federal data indicates that in one year, there were 158 natural gas distribution pipeline incidents, leading to more than $30 million in property damage, 10 deaths, and injuries to 50.

Natural Gas Accidents and How They Happen

Exploring for, producing, storing, and transporting natural gas is dangerous. While there are many natural gas accidents that happen every year that most people hear nothing about, most people are familiar with some of the biggest natural gas accidents that have occurred over the years. Serious explosions like these can have tragic consequences.

In order to prevent against natural gas explosions, there are a number of very strict regulations in place that are designed to ensure workers’ safety. However, safety standards are not always met, and explosions can occur because of natural gas leaks that go undetected. For example, while natural gas pipeline explosions are almost always preventable, poor maintenance of pipes or valves, corrosion or metal fatigue of pipes, chemical damage, breaching codes during installation, dents, and more increase the risk of an accident. Accidents could also occur because employees are improperly trained, do not have the correct materials or gear, or because safety equipment is defective.

But natural gas accidents do not only involve pipelines; gas can also explode when it is being transported by tanker trucks or freight trains, or when stored in a leaking gas well. When natural gas is being extracted, the slightest error could have catastrophic consequences.

Liability for a Natural Gas Accident

 Natural gas accidents are often catastrophic. Not only do they cause deaths and serious injuries, but they can leave victims with disabilities, psychological injuries, property damage, an inability to work, and other economic and noneconomic losses. Because, as stated above, these accidents are almost always preventable, it is important that explosions are thoroughly investigated, the precise cause is determined, and at-fault parties are held liable for harm caused. There is no excuse for failing to provide workers with safety equipment, failing to maintain pipelines, or failing to violate other safety regulations.

At the law offices of Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we work diligently to ensure that an at fault party is identified and held liable for harm that an injured party and their loved ones have suffered. In addition to natural gas companies, third parties, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment, could be to blame for a natural gas explosion that leaves people with devastating harm.

Contact Our Law Firm Today

Our natural gas explosion accident attorneys in West Virginia care about you, and are here to protect your right to seek damages when a natural gas explosion changes your life. If you have been injured in a natural gas explosion, or if you have lost a loved one, please contact Bailey Javins & Carter, L.C., today. Our firm has been protecting the rights of the injured since 1970 and our experienced injury attorneys are ready to help you and recover the damages you deserve. Please request your free consultation by calling us anytime at 800-497-0234. You can also request information by sending us a brief message.

Complicated CWP at Wayne County Rock Spring Development Mine

Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis (CWP), or black lung disease, has been linked to several recent cases of complicated CWP (including some fatalities) at the Rock Spring Development Mine in Wayne County, WV. Fault lies with a deadly combination of illegal mining practices and several brands of defective respirators that did not protect miners due to a design flaw.

Coal workers at Rock Spring developed black lung disease by inhaling coal dust that causes the color of the lungs to turn from pink to black.

Types of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis

CWP is found in two general forms:

  1. Simple CWP: This form of CWP indicates 1 – 2 nodular aggregations within the lungs. Simple CWP is an early form of the condition that is typically diagnosed with a chest X-ray.
  2. Complicated CWP: Complicated CWP is a result of extended exposure, leading to CWP with progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). It is characterized by the development of large, fibrous masses 1 cm in diameter or larger form in the upper region of the lungs.

The CDC reports an increase in complicated CWP black lung claims. NPR reports over 962 cases of black lung in the previous decade. The primary areas of complicated CWP occurrences include Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Symptoms of Complicated Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis

Sufferers of complicated CWP can experience the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Black sputum
  • Decreased lung capacity
  • Heart problems
  • Chronic cough
  • Pulmonary hypertension

Complicated CWP at the Wayne County Rock Spring Development Mine

Rock Spring Development Mine is a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources. Alpha filed for bankruptcy before gaining approval for a restructuring plan in 2016. The company (and many of its subsidiaries including Rock Spring) appear to have used illegal mine ventilation and respirable dust practices along with defective respirators, leading to increased occurrences of black lung disease.

Current court cases (here and here) indicate a potential breach in safety standards, with a higher risk of black lung disease among workers at the company’s plant.

In May 2015, the Rock Spring Development mine was idled, but there is potentially a long lasting impact to be felt by the mine’s former employees.

Verdicts and Settlements in Complicated CWP Cases

Workers with potential cases of complicated CWP should seek medical attention and seek legal guidance in filing a claim against the mine.

BJC has successfully settled cases in the millions of dollars against coal companies which we have shown to have mined in violation of mandatory ventilation and respirable dust standards.  These illegal activities include not hanging ventilation curtain, operating equipment with inoperable dust suppression systems, mining off sequence and exposing miners to dirty return air much more often than allowed, receiving advanced warning of inspectors in order to fix ventilation violations before the inspectors get underground, manipulating MSHA dust sampling and outright cheating on company dust sampling.

Additionally, defective dust masks have led to several successful coal dust mask litigation cases in recent years.

Prime examples of verdicts in these cases include:

$7.2 Million

A $7.2 million verdict was awarded to a Kentucky man. This case was the first to go to a verdict in a defective face mask lawsuit against Mine Safety Appliances. Officials recognized the masks were defective in the 1970s and called for a ban of the product. The company continued to sell the masks for an additional 15 years.

The plaintiff unknowingly continued to use this mask, leading to him suffer from CWP. In addition, the manufacturer sold masks to many workers and companies in the coal mining industry across WV during this same time period.

10 lawsuits were filed against Mine Safety Appliances by July of 2014, alleging that the company sold the faulty respirators, proven to not work, to the employers of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs, in turn, wore the masks provided to them.

Substantial amounts of dust entered the masks despite the masks being worn to the safety requirements set forth by the manufacturer. The plaintiffs had no knowledge of the masks leaking in the harmful coal dust at the time.

Complicated workers’ pneumoconiosis is 100% preventable if the coal mine companies take the proper steps to make the air quality in the mines safe. The use of defective masks is the fault of the manufacturer for making them available, as well as the coal mine company that knowingly distributed these defective masks to its employees as a cheaper alternative to addressing air quality standards in the mines.

Alpha Natural Resources has been known to fight hard against employees who file claims after being diagnosed with black lung disease. One man, Robert Long, worked at the company’s Emerald Mine for 35 years and now relies on oxygen just to continue breathing.

The company fought the claim and sent Mr. Long to two doctors, both of whom were assigned by the company. The doctors concluded that the man was “healthier.” The case dragged on for four years, with Mr. Long finally prevailing.

Free Initial Consultation with an Injury Attorney in Charleston

Bailey, Javins and Carter, L.C., firmly believes that what is happening to coal miners is unforgivable. We understand the physical, emotional and financial struggles coal miners and their families face when dealing with the outcome of these ailments, and we are committed to obtaining the just compensation you deserve. If you believe you have been harmed by illegal mine practices and/or a defective respirator and have been diagnosed with complicated CWP, please contact Bailey Javins & Carter at (800) 497-0234.  Our experienced and knowledgeable black lung attorneys stand ready to support your claim. View our resources page to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

medical malpractice

The Current Status of Talcum Powder Litigation

There have been some shockingly large jury verdicts in talcum powder lawsuits over the past year, which has been a wake-up call for both Johnson & Johnson and the thousands of potential plaintiffs who still have yet to file suit.

In just the past year, the company has been ordered to pay almost $200 million. $177 million of those damages are punitive, meaning that juries are not happy with what is happening in these cases.

J&J first invented their talcum powder products over a century ago (1892) and they have been marketed for use in the nursery and the bathroom. Women have been using the products for hygienic purposes for decades, either sprinkling the powder on sanitary napkins or in their underwear for moisture and odor control. The substance is also found condoms and some diaphragms.

The Link Between Talc and Ovarian Cancer

The problem with using talcum powder products around the genital area is that they have been strongly linked to ovarian cancer. Since 1971, more than 20 studies have linked the substance to ovarian cancer. The most cited study comes out of Harvard University, which concludes that women who use talc powder products have a 33% greater risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who don’t. Ovarian cancer is a serious disease that takes the lives of more than 14,000 women in the U.S. each year.

Johnson & Johnson’s Knowledge of the Danger

Despite the numerous studies and evidence that there is a real danger, Johnson & Johnson has not issued a recall on their products. In fact, they’ve taken measures to cover up the problem, which is illegal.

Internal J&J correspondence has surfaced in some recent cases that proves the company knew of the danger of talc and made the choice not warn the public. A letter from a medical consultant warned J&J that denying the risks of talc associated with ovarian cancer could affect the company’s image.

Talcum Powder Cases

The first case was brought against J&J by a physician’s assistant named Diane Berg in 2009. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 and had used talcum powder in her underwear for most of her life. J&J offered her a $1.3 million settlement with a confidentiality clause, which she refused, deciding instead to warn others and share her experiences.

There are currently more than 1,700 pending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson in both state and federal court alleging that the company ignored scientific studies linking its products to ovarian cancer.

$72 Million Verdict

The first large verdict in these talc litigation cases was in February 2016, when a St. Louis jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. Jackie Fox used Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products for her entire life, and she died of ovarian cancer in 2015. After a three-week trial, the St. Louis court awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and another $62 million in punitive damages to Fox’s survivors.

$55 Million Verdict

Just a few weeks after the verdict in Jackie Fox’s case, the same St. Louis court awarded $55 million in another talc powder lawsuit. Gloria Ristesund also used Johnson & Johnson products for feminine hygiene. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent a hysterectomy, where talc particles were found inside her tumors. Ristesund was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and another $50 million in punitive damages.

$70 Million Verdict

After just 3 hours of deliberation, a St. Louis jury awarded a California woman $70 million in October 2016. For more than four decades, 62-year-old Deborah Giannecchini used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for feminine hygiene. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013, and her doctors tell her that she has an 80% chance of dying within the next two years. Giannecchini was awarded $2.5 million in compensatory damages, $65 million in punitive damages, and another $2.5 million from the talc supplier, who was a co-defendant.

Talcum Powder and Mesothelioma

The largest and most noteworthy talc litigation cases right now deal with ovarian cancer, but there is a new type of claim emerging. These claims allege that consumer talc products were contaminated with asbestos.

As early as the 1970’s, scientists discovered that some talc products contained asbestos fibers.  In 1973 the Federal Government stepped in, passing a law requiring that commercial talc products be asbestos free and adequately tested.

In 2012, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) tested dozens of consumer talc products and found no asbestos fibers in any of those products tested.  The problem with this study is that only four talc suppliers submitted samples, so the study’s findings are not complete.  The FDA states in the body of the study report “…while the FDA finds these results informative, they do not prove that most or all talc or talc-containing cosmetic products currently marketed in the United States are likely to be free of asbestos contamination.”

Despite these test results, cases are coming forward, and plaintiffs are arguing that those tests simply weren’t sensitive enough. If the asbestos litigation has taught us anything, it’s that there is really no safe level of this dangerous substance.

Talc used in cosmetic products could be linked to the deadly lung disease, mesothelioma, because of the asbestos content. There have been several cases and favorable rulings linking talc to mesothelioma. The first was in 2013 with a $2 million verdict for a New Jersey woman, and the most recent cases in a 2016 resulted in jury awards of $13 million and $18 million.

Johnson & Johnson continues to claim that their products are safe and states that medical evidence supports the safety of cosmetic talc. They vow to appeal the verdicts as each new court date and plaintiff arrives on their doorstep.

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after using long-term use of talcum powder products, contact us to discuss your talcum litigation options. The experienced talc litigation attorneys at Bailey, Javins & Carter can walk you through your options and will work aggressively to get you the compensation you deserve.  Contact BJC now to schedule a free initial consultation about your rights to compensation for damages from talcum powder exposure.

Accident Injury Lawyer - Bailey Javins & Carter

What should I know about suing a public entity?

When you are injured on a public property such as on school grounds or at a state park, you are allowed to bring a lawsuit against them. The only difference between bringing a lawsuit against a private party or a public entity is that you have to inform the entity of your intentions to file a claim against them. This concept is known as prior written notice.

If you do not notify the entity that you plan on bringing a lawsuit against them within the time frame that they provide, you will not be able to file a claim. This is important because you will be left to cover the medical expenses of your injuries.

Prior written notice is not required when you are bringing a lawsuit against a private party such as a homeowner. If you require experienced legal representation for West Virginia personal injury matter, please contact a personal injury attorney who can assist you with determining if there are any prior written notice deadlines that you must abide by. Having an understanding of both prior written notice and the statutes of limitations is one of the most important things to be aware of when pursuing a personal injury case.

Bringing a case against a public entity has a tendency to be more difficult than bringing one against a private party because the last thing a municipality wants to deal with is a lawsuit. They will usually try to settle out of court or avoid the lawsuit altogether.

If you require experienced legal representation for a West Virginia personal injury matter, please contact Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. to schedule a free consultation.