Delek facing litigation after refinery explosion

Published: Dec. 3, 2008 at 9:56 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2008 at 11:54 PM CST
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The first lawsuit has been filed in connection to last month's explosion at an East Texas refinery. One person died and three people had to go to the hospital after the explosion at Delek Refining in Tyler. One of those workers, Jim Hammett, is still in critical condition in Dallas. Today, KLTV 7's Danielle Capper got her hands on the lawsuit, which is being filed by workers who don't even live in East Texas.

The lawsuit was filed just six days after the explosion. It's on behalf of five men from the Houston-Galveston area, contract workers brought in to work for just a week.

These men were working on the sat-gas unit that exploded. Authorities say it was caused by a gas leak. The lawsuit claims Delek is at fault for the explosion and that these men were injured as a result, some severely. They claim Delek was negligent in many ways - one of them failing to maintain a safe work place. We spoke to the attorney who filed the suit today.

"These types of fires and explosions are very common in the state of Texas and frankly, this particular facility has a long history of issues with OSHA. The suit is brought to find out what happened, and to get some medical care for these five individuals," said Tony Buzbee. "We don't know how these men will recover, we don't know if they will get worse, if they can go back to work - there's no way to put a dollar amount on how much these gentlemen are seeking."

He also said that one of his clients had a conversation with Jim Hammett just moments before the explosion, saying he smelled a foul odor and had been having problems with leaks.

He said they heard a pop, a sucking sound and then multiple explosions. The suit is asking for a jury trial and seeks damages for the past, present and future.

The family of Jim Hammett has also indicated that legal action on their part is in the works. We spoke to Delek Refining, who says they don't comment on pending litigation.

Danielle Capper, reporting.