MARTINSBURG -- The widow of a recently deceased man blames her husband's death on hazardous working conditions at the Inwood fiberglass plant.

Melissa Willison filed a lawsuit March 26 in U.S. District Court against Inwood fiberglass plant's owner Guardian Fiberglass and Guardian Industries Corp.

Melissa Willison claims her husband, Billy Willison Sr., worked as a mechanic at the plant, requiring him to perform preventative maintenance on certain components of the production line.

"Said preventative maintenance included, inter alia, greasing/checking bearings; greasing/checking belts; and removing loose debris from the conveyor belt/K&S machine," the suit states. "This job duty also required Plaintiff's decedent to position himself under the conveyor system to remove excess plastic packaging wrap that coiled around the rollers underneath the conveyor belt."

While working on Nov. 12, Billy Willison Sr. suddenly became trapped in unguarded and energized machinery and died, according to the complaint.

Directly before his death, Billy Willison Sr. experienced pain and suffering, the complaint says. After her husband's death, Melissa Willison claims she suffered sorrow, mental anguish and solace; lost her husband's income; incurred expenses for his emergency medical care; and incurred funeral costs.

She blames Guardian for causing her husband's death, saying the company failed to develop specific steps for the lockout of each machine, failed to develop procedures to test each machine's lockout devices, failed to provide employees with adequate training, failed to ensure only authorized employees performed a lockout, failed to provide adequate training to employees to ensure they knew how to properly lock out a machine and failed to provide adequate training to employees to ensure they knew how to properly operate a machine. In addition, the company negligently failed to warn employees of the hazards of operating a K&S machine, failed to install guarding on the K&S machine and tolerated other unsafe working conditions that led to Billy Willison Sr.'s death, according to the complaint.

After Billy Willison Sr.'s death, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration conducted an investigation at Guardian and entered into an informal settlement agreement with the company in which Guardian agreed to pay $6,300 in penalties and agreed to correct the serious deficiencies OSHA investigators discovered, the suit states.

In her two-count suit, Melissa Willison alleges deliberate intent and negligence against the defendants.

She seeks compensatory damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Brett J. Preston, C. Benjamin Salango and Dan R. Snuffer of Preston and Salango in Charleston will be representing her.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:10-cv-35

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