The Ferguson Law Firm’s legal team and investigators work hard to determine who is at fault when someone is injured. Attorney Jane Leger recalls a case where an inspection company failed to do a proper inspection which caused workers to be injured and carbon monoxide poisoning of children at a nearby school.
One of the cases that I believe we had the most impact with was a case involving a boiler that blew back and seriously burned a man over about 70% of his body. This man was at work, simply doing his job, which required him to walk by a power boiler. These boilers are huge. This one in particular was about 14 stories. And as he was walking past it, flames shot out of an inspection port.
What was remarkable about the event is that nine days earlier, an inspection and insurance company had certified to the state that that boiler was safe to operate. Clearly it wasn’t safe.
He’s walking by it and about a four by six inch inspection port blew open, and just literally a flame, like a flying thrower or something you would see in a movie or in war time, this flame pinned him against a wall. And the reason that he lost his hands is he put his hands up toward his face, defensively, to protect his face. And by the time it was over he was seriously burned.
So the case was litigated for eight years, which is a lengthy amount of time for a lawsuit. But because he was so seriously injured and his damages were huge, the insurance company just wanted to fight. We had to try the case three times.
What was unusual about this case, that it was a personal injury case arising out of an industrial incident where this gentleman was burned. And as we were doing our investigation, we discovered that this inspection and insurance company had actually been committing fraud on the state because they were turning in these inspection reports saying that they had inspected the boiler and that it was safe to operate when it actually was not safe to operate and they had not performed an adequate inspection.
After that case was resolved, we had an incident here locally in Beaumont where almost 200, approximately 200 children out of middle school were poisoned by carbon monoxide. And the parents were very concerned about how that happened and why it happened and how they could prevent it. These parents were told over and over again, that there was no help, that there was nothing that could be done about their children’s exposure to this poison because the school district was immune under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. So the parents were told there was no help for them and no remedy for their children.
It’s a terrible thing. Carbon monoxide is a poison that causes brain damage. And because children’s brains are still developing, they are more susceptible to being injured by that exposure. So the parents made their way here and we started an investigation into why this had happened. You know, you send your kids to school and you just take for granted that they’re going to be safe while they’re there. You don’t expect that they’re going to be poisoned and brain damaged just because they showed up for school.
Our investigation uncovered, again, an insurance and inspection company that did not do an adequate inspection. And those children were poisoned just eight weeks after an insurance company had certified to the state of Texas that that boiler was safe to operate.
So it makes me really proud that the Ferguson law firm can take a case where people have been told there’s no way to help them and that there is no remedy and that we can help them because we’ve done it. You know, we have the experience, the knowledge, the resources from other cases that we can apply to situations that look like, or where clients have been told there is no remedy.