WHEELING – Nine people are suing Eagle Natrium after they claim it negligently maintained the area of the Natrium Plant that exploded and caused them injuries.

On Dec. 15, 2015, Gary P. Shaver; Dustin Rice and Allison Rice; Michael Tolpa and Jane Tolpa; Paul Shaver and Jennifer Shaver; and Ryan Dodds and Tara Dodds were working at the Natrium Plant where they were required to work near and around Boiler #5 on the main floor of the Power House when Boiler #5 exploded, according to a complaint originally filed in Marshall CIrcuit Court and later removed to federal court.

At the time of the explosion, coal dust and ash engulfed the work area and overcame the plaintiffs, requiring them to exit the Power House by crawling on their hands and knees and feeling their way out, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim as a result, they were exposed to extreme heat, steam, coal dust and ash, toxic substances and possibly asbestos and suffered acute chemical inhalation.

Eagle negligently and recklessly exposed the plaintiffs to unsafe working conditions by failing to maintain Boiler #5 in a reasonably safe condition; failing to warn the plaintiffs of defects relating to Boiler #5; and failing to properly develop and implement a boiler inspection and maintenance program, according to the suit.

The defendants were also negligent and reckless in failing to properly implement and enforce a respirator program; failing to properly train contractors regarding the location of exits and safe means of egress; failing to properly mark and identify exits; failing to properly install and maintain its exit doors; failing to provide a safe means of ingress and egress; and failing to properly implement and enforce an emergency response plan, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim Eagle caused them injuries and damages.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Robert P. Fitzsimmons and Clayton J. Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Law Firm.

Eagle is represented by William D. Wilmoth and John R. Callcott of Steptoe & Johnson.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 5:17-cv-00187

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