Coke plant to blame for injury

by John O'Brien |
Nov. 17, 2006, 4:12am

WHEELING - An Ohio man says a sledgehammer head shot at him "like a bullet" and is suing Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. over his injuries.

Jacob Deffenbaugh, along with wife filed Dina, filed a lawsuit Nov. 8 against the company, which is in the midst of crawling itself out of a financial hole that started when it filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

Deffenbaugh says he worked at its coke plant in Follansbee as a millwright on May 25, 2005, when he was injured while hanging coke over doors.

"Jacob Deffenbaugh was severely injured when the head of the sledge hammer he was holding shot out, violently striking him in the forehead, as a result of the power blow of the 'pusher ram' on the sledge hammer head," the complaint says.

He says that while operating the pusher machine, another employee would override numerous safety devices in order to pop a coke over door back into place.

When Deffenbaugh was included, the pusher machine rocked forward as it struck his sledge hammer, "causing the sledge hammer head to then fire out toward the plaintiff... like a bullet."

He blames Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel for not training and instructing employees on how to safely use a sledge hammer. Also, he says the company trained employees to utilize unsafe practices like overriding safety devices and failed to properly maintain the coke battery.

"The defendant... had actual knowledge of the existence of the aforementioned specific unsafe working conditions and of the high degree of risk and strong probability of serious injury or death posed by those specific unsafe working conditions," the complaint says.

Deffenbaugh seeks compensation for severe pain and suffering, annoyance, inconvenience, aggravation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress, disfiguration, scarring, loss of personal dignity, loss of enjoyment of life, medical bills and future lost wages.

His wife makes a claim for loss of consortium.

David Jividen of Wheeling's Jividen Law Offices is representing the Deffenbaughs.

Judge Ronald Wilson has been assigned the case.

Ohio Circuit Court case number 06-C-412

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