Houston Attorney Rusty Hardin filed a lawsuit in Harris County probate court on behalf of the heirs of a blue collar worker who died from burns suffered while doing a routine filter change on a unit at the Dow Chemical Company Deer Park industrial facility. Dow reported the explosion and injury only after Johns died a month later and OSHA later cited Dow for violations relating to training, protective gear, safety information and more at the N5 Ammonia Recycle Unit where the burns occurred.
Brian Edward Johns, 45, was injured when the filter change led to an explosion pouring caustic substances over him. He had third degree burns over 65% of his body, suffered through multiple infections, surgeries and pneumonia in the month he spent hospitalized before he died August 18, 2012.
It was after his death that Dow reported the incident and later OSHA cited the company for seven violations at the unit, six were “serious” or violations that can cause death.
While Mr. Johns was first being treated at the Blocker Burn Unit at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston July 17, 2012, Dow personnel came and argued with doctors that it was hot water that burned Johns and not the caustic materials the doctors scraped from the body.
The lawsuit filed April 1 is styled Frances Sowell et al. vs. The Dow Chemical Company, Rohm and Haas Company, Rohm and Hass Texas Inc., Tim Fox, and Julio Rodrigues was filed on behalf of Mr. Johns’ mother and son. Rohm and Hass is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow.
Mr. Johns was a weight lifter who lived in Friendswood. When at Lamar University he’d played basketball. He left behind his mother, a son in college and a grandson.