MOUNDSVILLE – Four people are suing Axiall Corporation after they claim it is responsible for one man's death and two other employees' injuries.

Axiall LLC; Jerry Mullens; Robert Feldmeier; Jeff Fox; and Steve Smith were also named as defendants in the suit.

Thomas P. Zahnow, James Starkey and Douglas Carson were employed by Axiall as pipefitters, welders and/or maintenance employees, according to three complaints filed Jan. 21 in Marshall Circuit Court.

In August, a valve on the 1A/1B caustic line running from the North Field Tank at the load pumps near Tanks #2 and #3 began to leak and the defendants rigged up a temporary stopper plate to isolate the faulty valve until it could be repaired and/or replaced, according to the suits.

Holly Jo Zahnow, the executrix of the estate of Thomas P. Zahnow; Starkey; and Douglas Carson and Samantha Carson claim the stopper late used by the defendants failed to comply with required specifications and standards and became bowed.

On Sept. 19, the defendants instructed Thomas P. Zahnow, Starkey and Douglas Carson to replace the faulty valve and, despite the dangers and hazards associated with caustic soda solution, which was stored and transported in the North Field Tank, the defendants knowingly failed to take appropriate safety measures to protect the men and permitted unsafe working conditions to exist, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim the defendants failed to appropriately prepare the system for maintenance and failed to ensure that the system had been properly shut down, isolated and cleared out.

The defendants also failed to properly test the pumps and/or lines to ensure they were appropriately shut down, isolated and cleared, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim while the men were replacing the faulty valve, they  removed the bowed out stopper plate at which time steam and caustic soda solution gushed and sprayed out at a high pressure and temperature, exposing the men to the chemical and causing them severe and extreme chemical and thermal burns.

Thomas Zahnow ingested the chemical, which caused severe and fatal injuries, which caused his death on Oct. 1.

As a direct and proximate result of the defendants' actions, the plaintiffs were damaged and injured, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Robert P. Fitzsimmons and Clayton J. Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Law Firm PLLC; and Gregory A. Gellner of Gellner Law Offices.

Marshall Circuit Court case numbers: 15-C-13, 15-C-14, 15-C-15


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