Michigan steelworker is burned when flame-prevention jacket leaks oxygen, suit states; Defendant wonders why case is filed in Philadelphia

By Nicholas Malfitano | Oct 22, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A Michigan man claims he was left unprotected by a fire-protection jacket when removing steel, and was severely burned by an oxygen leak which he says was due to the manufacturer’s alleged negligence.

Lance Kroll of Twin Lake, Mich. filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on June 27 versus Airgas USA, LCC of Wayne and Barber Steel Foundry (a Wabtec Corporation) of Wilmerding.

On Dec. 12, 2016, Kroll was employed by Workbox Staffing, LLC, working at a facility owned and/or controlled by defendant(s) and was removing excess steel on bolster castings by using a torch and flame-retardant jacket – which unexpectedly leaked oxygen, causing Kroll to become engulfed in flames underneath his jacket, directly resulting in severe and permanent injuries, the suit says.

As a result, Kroll suffered deep second and third-degree partial and full-thickness burns with 17 percent total body surface area of the torso, left upper extremity and neck, numerous skin grafts, significant pruritus, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, loss of life’s pleasures and enjoyment, loss of earnings and/or loss or diminishment of future earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, disfigurement and scarring, embarrassment and humiliation, and other physical, emotional, and/or economic injuries, the suit says.

Among other negligences, Kroll claims the defendants were responsible for designing, manufacturing, distributing, supplying, installing and/or selling a defective and unreasonably dangerous product(s), failing to incorporate an alternative safer design to minimize the risk of injury during use and operation of the product(s) and failing to be flame-retardant as the jacket claimed to be.

In preliminary objections filed Aug. 13 by Barber Steel Foundry’s counsel, it argues Kroll did not identify the location of the facility where his incident occurred, and that it in fact occurred at the Barber Steel Foundry in the plaintiff’s home state of Michigan, not Pennsylvania. Therefore, it says the venue in this case is improper due to lack of jurisdiction, and the case was insufficiently-pled.

Through a response filed by Kroll and his counsel on Aug. 20, it denied the defendant’s counter-arguments and emphasized that the case and its nature conformed to all applicable rules of law under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

For counts of strict liability, negligence, breach of express and/or implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, delay damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, billable costs, and all other relief the Court deems just and appropriate.

The plaintiff is represented by Kyle D. Reich and Daniel L. Hessel of Golkow Hessel, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Joseph R. Fowler, Jacqueline E. Campbell and Matthew D. Vodzak of Fowler Hirtzel McNulty & Spaulding in Philadelphia, plus Douglas M. Grimsley and Michael A. Muha of Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, in Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180603386

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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