Suit Alleges Company Knew of Risks but Failed to Protect Employees
HOUSTON – Watson Grinding & Manufacturing ignored known safety risks before a massive January 24 explosion at its northwest Houston facility, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of an employee who was severely injured in the blast, which killed two employees and damaged hundreds of nearby homes.
In the lawsuit, Sean Robert Rangel said he was driving to work and approaching the facility when the blast threw his truck “like a ragdoll” toward a nearby warehouse. Mr. Rangel suffered serious injuries to his eye and experienced trauma from seeing the death of a coworker.
“Sean woke up on January 24 thinking that he would have a normal workday,” said Joel Simon, co-counsel for Mr. Rangel and name partner at Houston-based Fernelius Simon Mace Robertson Perdue. “In a flash, his life changed forever. Now he will have to live with physical pain from his injuries, and the emotional pain of witnessing his friend’s death. This tragedy should never have happened. Period.”
Mr. Rangel’s attorneys are also investigating the extent to which other companies’ actions may have played a role in the explosion.
“When a horrific incident like this occurs, it is critically important to identify all pieces of the puzzle that will ultimately reveal ‘how’ it happened,” adds Mr. Simon.
The lawsuit alleges that the company was negligent and grossly negligent for failing to control, monitor and prevent the explosion. The suit also says the company:
- Failed to properly maintain and repair equipment
- Failed to take reasonable steps to prevent serious harm to individuals inside the facility
- Failed to adequately train or employ individuals
“Sadly, this is the horrific result when large companies fail to put safety and common sense first,” said Steve Fernelius, co-counsel for Mr. Rangel and name partner at Fernelius Simon Mace Robertson Perdue. “People like Mr. Rangel should not have to pay the price for a company’s carelessness. Watson Grinding must be held accountable.”
The case is Sean Robert Rangel v. Watson Valve Services, Inc.; Watson Grinding & Manufacturing Co., KMHJ, LTD., KMHJ Management Company, LLC, filed in Harris County district court, Case No. 2020-05585.
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