DuPont, Former Employee Face Charges After Four Employee Deaths
The DuPont corporation and a former employee are both named in a criminal suit that alleges that the deaths of four workers was the result of workplace negligence and a failure to follow established safety guidelines. The former worker and his company pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Criminal cases take precedence over civil cases. In other words, that means they’re tried first. It makes sense to do it this way because establishing guilt in a criminal case is tantamount to proving negligence in a civil case. Since the verdict is rendered under a higher burden of proof (reasonable doubt) than a civil trial (preponderance of evidence/more likely than not) the verdict can be used to establish culpability. Then, the only thing left to wrangle over is damages.
One worker and his company are accused of knowingly ignoring safety regulations that could have prevented the deaths of four workers. The company is accused of skirting safety regulations applied to the handling of dangerous chemicals. In this case, the four workers were killed by insecticide exposure. Named in the lawsuit is the employee who was responsible for ensuring that the workers abided by federal safety regulations.
The Chemical Safety Board investigating the incident determined that the facility’s incinerator was poorly designed leading to the buildup of fluid which periodically had to be drained. The workers were expected to drain the fluid but there was no attempt to address any of the safety issues applied to dealings with dangerous chemicals. According to court documents, the problem existed for years before the fatal accident.
One worker was immediately killed after exposure to the chemical. Another worker was killed trying to save that worker. A third worker was killed trying to save the second worker, and a fourth worker was killed trying to save the third.
Elements of gross negligence
The families of the slain workers will almost certainly attempt to sue for punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of gross negligence or when the defendant’s misconduct is so egregious that the court sees fit to punish the defendant. This seems like a case ripe for a punitive damages settlement.
Essentially, the dangerous condition remained on the premises for a decade before this incident occurred. The safety engineer in charge of ensuring the workers’ safety oversaw a dangerous process without providing guidance on how to do so safely. In other words, an incident like this was inevitable. Now, four families are without loved ones and the safety engineer and his company are facing criminal charges. The prosecution will need to show that the individual safety engineer knowingly failed to implement regulatory safety measures.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
In some cases of work injury, you can file a lawsuit against your employer or a third party. Call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today for a free case evaluation.