Late warning blamed for tank cleaner's chemical burns

By Jim Boyle | Jun 19, 2014

The alleged failure of employees of a beverage manufacturer to warn a Coatesville man about the

harmful chemicals at the bottom of a 70,000-gallon tank before he hopped in to clean it caused him to suffer severe chemical burns to his legs, according to a federal personal injury suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Alan Cullen seeks damages in excess of $150,000 claiming negligence on the par of the Cott Corporation and its staff at the Glen Mills, Pa., production facility. He claims to have endured excruciating pain that has affected his ability to earn a regular wage.

On Jan. 31, 2013, the suit says, Cullen was cleaning out a digester of waste water in a 70,000 gallon tank, as part of his duties as an employee of McGovern Environmental, a third party contracted for the clean-up task.

While inside the tank, the employees warned Cullen that he was standing in soda water, a combination of corrosive chemicals including ammonium sulfate, diammonium sulfate and soda ash. Immediately after the warning, Cullen felt a burning sensation in his legs.

He escaped the tank, but not without sustaining second-degree chemical burns on his legs, which may result in the loss of full function in his legs and permanent scarring, the complaint says.

Cullen is represented by Brandon Swartz of Swartz Culleton in Newtown, Pa.

The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-03755-GAM.

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