Company sued over bad barge part sues another

By Kelly Holleran | Nov 13, 2008

CHARLESTON - A company that was sued last year for a malfunctioning part on its barge has filed a federal suit against another company, claiming the other corporation was responsible for the broken piece.

Ingram Barge Company claims W&O Supply Inc. supplied the valve assembly Kirby Jones was attempting to close when he got injured on Oct. 12, 2005.

Jones was trying to shut the valve wheel of compartment 3 on barge 913, which Ingram owns, when it and the cheetar bar recoiled backward, throwing Jones against a pipe and injuring his back, according to a complaint Jones filed July 16, 2007, in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Before the incident occurred, DuPont had assigned Jones work unloading methyl methacrylate, according to the federal complaint Ingram filed.

Jones filed suit against both Ingram, claiming it was negligent because it did not provide a safe work environment, and against DuPont, claiming it exposed him to unsafe working conditions.

Ingram claims it was not responsible for any injury to Jones, but rather W&O could be because that company supplied the part that injured him.

"At all relevant times, the valve assembly on compartment No. 3 of Barge No. IB 913 was operated or used by Ingram in the manner prescribed by W&O and for the foreseeable and intended purpose for which it was sold and maintained by W&O," the suit states.

If Jones's injury is found to have been caused by the barge's condition, it is due to the negligence of W&O and not that of Ingram, the company claims.

"Ingram avers that it is without fault for the October 12, 2005, incident and that W&O is primarily and actively liable, with respect to all injuries, damages or losses alleged by Jones," the suit states.

Ingram has spent survey fees, legal fees and investigation fees as a result of the Jones's suit, according to the complaint.

W&O was negligent because it failed to supply a safe valve assembly, failed to supply sufficient warning about the part's potential dangers or defects, failed to provide sufficient instructions, failed to test the valve assembly and failed to have safe and proper quality control, according to the complaint.

The company also negligently supplied an improperly designed valve control and failed to exercise due care in relation to the dangers of its product, the suit states.

In addition, W&O breached its contract by selling a defective and dangerous valve assembly, Ingram claims.

In the six-count suit, Ingram is seeking a judgment in excess of $300,000, plus interest, costs and attorney's fees.

It also seeks a judgment in its favor and against W&O that W&O be required to pay Jones any money resulting from the suit.

Leonard Fomella of Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir in Pittsburgh will be representing Ingram.

Thomas F. Basila of The Calwell Practice in Charleston will be representing Jones.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:08-1166

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