A normal day at work ended tragically when an asphalt tanker exploded at a refinery, covering Darrell Allen, a Texas truck driver, with molten asphalt. One year later, the truck driver is suing the Shreveport-based oil company, Calumet Specialty Products Partners, and its affiliate companies for damages after enduring third-degree burns covering over 90 percent of his body. Mr. Allen spent over three months in intensive care, suffering through debridement treatments that can only be described as being “skinned-alive” daily.
On April 23, 2015, Allen went to a refinery to pick up a load of asphalt. Upon arriving at the refinery, Allen’s vehicle was already overfilled by 3,000 pounds of liquid asphalt. For reference, liquid asphalt is typically heated to 350 degrees in order to keep it from hardening. Only one refinery employee was on duty at the time to offload the extra asphalt. As a result, the employee asked Allen to assist in the offloading process despite Allen’s lack of training. Unbeknownst to either Allen or the employee, the hose used to offload the asphalt was not properly cleaned out. When the water from the hose hit the liquid asphalt, the asphalt expanded which caused the explosion. As Allen lay covered in molten hot asphalt, he pushed himself up causing severe burns to his hands and used the emergency shower where he passed out.
All indicators assert this tragedy was preventable. In a similar occurrence in 1999, the refinery’s safety director testified truck drivers are prohibited from assisting in the offloading process of liquid asphalt.
In 2007, OSHA cited the refinery for “willful, serious, and repeat” violations in the amount of $122,400, and in 2010, OSHA issued penalties amounting to $173,000 for 22 alleged serious violations.
Allen’s attorneys state, Mr. Allen will require millions of dollars’ worth of medical expenses throughout the rest of his life. It is clear Mr. Allen’s life has forever been changed by this incident, an incident in which he carries no fault but suffers 100 percent of the consequences.
If you or someone you know was injured or killed in an accident involving a refinery or in a trucking incident, it is important to know your rights to recover. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884 for a confidential consultation.