Harris County Jury Awards $33.1 Million to Burned Plywood Worker

A Harris County jury recently awarded a Polk County man $33.1 million for injuries he sustained while working at a plywood plant in Corrigan, Texas. At the time of the April 2014 incident, Ralph Figgs was working as a plant supervisor for Georgia Pacific South. Figgs was reportedly performing his job duties near a smoldering blower when an explosion occurred in a nearby sander room and a fire quickly spread through the plant’s dust collection system into the sander baghouse where Figgs was working. The sander baghouse collects large amounts of highly flammable dust from wood sanding operations through the dust collector system. According to the lawsuit, the plant’s fire and explosion detection, prevention, and suppression system failed to prevent, warn, and eliminate hazards such as the explosion and fire in question.

Figgs sued several defendants including several entities affiliated with Georgia Pacific South as well as the designer and manufacturer of the sander baghouse and dust collector systems, the company that installed and periodically inspected the fire suppression system, the distributor of the fire suppression system, and a third party that was contracted to inspect certain aspects of the fire suppression system. Figgs alleged that he was injured by a combination of the defendants’ negligence and gross negligence including defendants’ failure to provide adequate training, instructions, and warnings and knowingly placing Figgs in a situation with a substantial probability of severe injury and death. Following a three week trial, the jury assigned 51 percent of the blame to AirCon Corporation, the company that designed the dust collection system, and 26 percent of the blame to GreCon, the maker of the spark detection system. The jury found Georgia Pacific South to be 23 percent responsible. However, Figgs settled with Georgia Pacific South prior to trial.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a workplace accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-231-9360 or 1-888-229-5094 for your free consultation.