Family sues over Texas man’s Dow plant death

The mother and son of a Friendswood man who died after being burned in an explosion at a Dow Chemical Co. plant in Deer Park last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the chemical manufacturer, a subsidiary and two employees.

The April 1 suit filed in Harris County Probate Court stemming from Brian Johns’ death  seeks damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of inheritance and loss of earnings, but doesn’t specify how much money is being sought.

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The 45-year-old Johns was changing a filter in an ammonia recycle unit at the facility on July 17, 2012  when an explosion occurred, throwing him into the air and spraying caustic substances over his body, according to the lawsuit.

Johns suffered third-degree burns to roughly 65 percent of his body and died a month later, the suit says.

Among other things, the suit alleges that the defendants knew the filter unit was not in a proper, safe and working condition prior to the explosion but did not repair or replace the unit adequately. The suit also claims the defendants failed to provide safety equipment for workers on the unit.

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The suit cites documents showing that on Jan. 11, following an investigation, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued seven violations against Dow as a result of the incident.

A spokeswoman for Midland, Mich.-based Dow, Nancy Lamb, declined to comment Wednesday on the suit.

In 2009, Dow acquired Rohm and Haas, which has operated in Deer Park since 1947. The facility, which employs nearly 700 people, manufactures specialty chemicals used in paints, detergents, floor care products, adhesives and sealants.