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Worker Injured in Louisiana Oil Refinery Explosion Sues Shell Oil, Others

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A Pearland man is suing Shell Oil Co. over injuries he suffered in an explosion at a Louisiana refinery, according to a lawsuit filed in the Harris County 215th District Court on December 10, 2018.

The complaint alleges that Plaintiff Edward Branch was working as a foreman for the company JV Industrial ("JVIC") at a Convent, Louisiana refinery owned by Defendant Equilon Enterprises, LLC at the time of the explosion on July 4, 2018. JVIC was contracted to complete a work package that included the removal of grating that would allow Defendant Republic Valve Services, Inc. to access and repair a valve leaking hydrogen. Branch claims that although Defendants Shell and Equilon instructed JVIC to proceed with the work package-representing to JVIC that the pipeline downstream of the leaking valve was fully cleared, deactivated, and safe to work on, per a work permit issued by a Shell operator-the valve had not yet been repaired as represented. The complaint states that when the JVIC crew opened the pipeline, it exploded, and Branch had to leap out of the way of the fire, resulting in serious injuries to his knee.

The lawsuit alleges that Defendants Shell Oil Co., Equilon Enterprises, LLC, and Republic Valve Services, Inc. are responsible for Branch's injuries because they negligently failed to institute and enforce appropriate workplace safety measures, properly ensure equipment was safe to repair, follow industry standard process safety measures, and properly train and/or supervise individuals on site, among other acts and omissions. Branch requests a trial by jury and seeks monetary relief between $100,000 and $200,000.

In 2017, Shell cancelled plans to permanently shut down the gasoline unit of the Convent, Louisiana refinery, instead announcing that the facility would be overhauled and refurbished, extending its production for an estimated four to five years. The explosion occurred in the sulfur-producing unit of the refinery, which was shut down the month before the explosion in conjunction with the gasoline unit overhaul. Two other contract workers were injured in the incident as well.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a chemical plant refinery accident, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner. Our attorneys can assist you with your claim. Call us today at 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884 for your free consultation.

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