Trimac accused of knowingly exposing employees to ‘lethal’ chemicals

December 9, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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Former employees of Trimac Transportation have filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging they contracted “debilitating injuries” from chemicals hauled by the company.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, former employees of Trimac filed a lawsuit in a Fulton County, Ga., state court. Trimac’s negligence includes not warning and protecting employees from “poisonous, lethal, carcinogenic chemicals,” according to the lawsuit. The complaint names more than two dozen defendants, including several Trimac business entities, Bayer, Dow Chemical Company, Dupont and Monsanto.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs worked for Trimac as wash rack technicians. Their tasks included cleaning Trimac’s tank trucks, railcars and other containers. From dates ranging from 2000 to 2019, the employees were exposed to toxic chemicals, including:

  • Acrylate.
  • Ammonia.
  • Benzene.
  • Caustic.
  • Formaldehyde.
  • Methylene.
  • Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI).
  • Naphtha.
  • 85% Hydrogen peroxide.
  • Nitric acid.
  • Roundup (glyphosate)
  • Styrene.
  • Sulfuric acid.
  • Toluene.
  • Toluene diisocyanate (TDI).
  • Xylene.

Exposure to those chemicals, plaintiffs claim, were proximate causes of debilitating injuries. One employee was diagnosed with blastoid mantle cell lymphoma and another with vitiligo, a disease that causes loss of skin color. A third employee suffered several injuries, including heart failure that requires a heart transplant, kidney failure that requires dialysis at least three times per week and a kidney transplant, insulin dependent diabetes, seizures, and blindness that has required seven eye surgeries.

Wash rack technicians cleaned 16-25 trucks per day that had contained the chemicals, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that Trimac failed to implement legally required training regarding hazardous chemicals and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Plaintiffs work in confined spaces without adequate ventilation and clean without respirators or any other legally required PPE, the lawsuit claims.

In addition to negligence, the lawsuit accuses Trimac of falsifying documents, including wash tickets, wash requests, wash rack work orders and tank entry forms. Allegedly, the documents falsely indicated that chemicals hauled by the trucks were safe and nonhazardous. Exhibits included with the complaint include several “Hazard Evaluation Report and Hot Work Permits” over the past several years. In those documents, caustic, ethylene, MDI, nitric acid and styrene are listed as the product last hauled and marked as nonhazardous.

The complaint accuses Trimac of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), design/manufacturing defects, negligence and failure to warn, willful concealment of known defects and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiffs are seeking $30 million each in damages.

“Employees cleaned 16 to 25 trucks per day, many of which contained poisonous, lethal, carcinogenic chemicals well-known to cause innumerable life-long health issues and deaths,” James Hugh Potts II, lead counsel for plaintiffs, said in a statement. “As horrifying, Trimac falsified documents including writing ‘Nonhazardous’ on tank truck entry forms notwithstanding the tank trucks contained chemicals that were quite poisonous, even lethal. All this to induce their own employees to climb into these tank trucks laden with deadly chemicals.” LL

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.