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Epoxy, acid exposure leads to workplace safety lawsuit

New Orleans is the site of a new federal lawsuit in which three seamen are suing their employer for having an unsafe workplace. Under maritime law, Louisiana seamen are entitled to many of the same protections that employees on land receive: a workplace that is free from danger. Sadly, not all employers provide such a space or specifically require their employees to engage in extremely unsafe behaviors. But, when this happens, there are legal options available to employees who are injured while working at sea.

These three seamen have filed a lawsuit against their employer for $11,5 million or $3.85 million each, alleging they have sustained physical scarring, disabling injuries, considerable mental and physical pain and suffering, and that they have also lost significant wages since their injuries. If they win, their award would also include punitive damages, court costs and other fees.

The lawsuit says that the men were exposed to epoxy and acid between Aug. 31 and Sept. 9, 2009. They had been working with the dangerous chemicals in small, unventilated spaces without access to breathing masks or other respiratory protection. Their employer has said that it was unaware of the men’s working conditions or even that they had been using an acid wash and, thus, the men have also accused the employer of trying to cover up the dangerous workplace conditions.

The men have alleged that the work for which they had been hired was unsafe and that the method of completing it was fundamentally dangerous. They also claim that there was a lack of protective equipment.

Because of these dangerous working conditions, the men have sustained brain and lung injuries and other preventable illnesses.

Source: The Louisiana Record, “Seamen seek $11.5 million claiming brain and lung injuries from chemical exposure,” Michelle Keahey, Aug. 27, 2012

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