Work Injury Lawsuit Filed Over Gas Explosion at Memphis Refinery

A lawsuit has been filed by workers injured and killed as a result of a gas explosion that occurred last month at a Memphis refinery. 

The complaint was filed by Richard Cuevas and Luis Santos, both workers injured in a March 6 blast at Valero Refinery. Cuevas also filed the lawsuit on behalf of his brothers, Nicolas Cuevas and Daniel Reyes Cuevas, who were also caught in the explosion. Nicolas was killed by the blast and Daniel remains hospitalized. Another worker, Guadalupe Torres, is still hospitalized and not part of the lawsuit.

All of the victims were subcontractors working for JV Industrial of Pasadena, Texas, which does maintenance work on refineries. Richard Cuevas was the foreman of the five-man crew.

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According to the lawsuit, the men went into an area of the refinery that was supposed to be made free of flammable gases by Valero workers. They were also supposed to ensure that firefighting and fire protection gear were available. However, that afternoon the area exploded while the men were working, causing severe injuries and killing Nicholas Cuevas. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The lawsuit claims that it took more than 10 minutes before personnel arrived to assist the burned men. Nicolas was on fire for half that time, as his brother and Santos tried to extinguish him.

In a hearing earlier this month, a motion by the plaintiffs to shut the plant down to examine a gate valve that plaintiffs say was leaking was denied. The plaintiffs wanted the valve removed and tested.


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