10/11/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
Institute, WV—The first wrongful death lawsuit to stem from an August 2008 explosion at Bayer CropScience’s Institute plant was filed by the mother of a former West Virginia State University student. The mother contends toxic substances released after the blast were to blame for the death of her son, according to an October 6, 2010 Daily Mail report.
An August 2008 explosion at Bayer CropScience’s Institute plant prompted a shelter-in-place order, which Portia Gray, mother of Ra’Sean Gray, claims her son complied with fully. When an all-clear signal was given following the blast, the former WVSU student allegedly returned to his dorm.
Upon doing so, however, Gray apparently discovered his window open. Gray’s window reportedly faces the Bayer plant. The lawsuit also claims Gray noticed a strange odor in his room, which was covered in an unspecified dust or soot.
Less than three weeks after the Bayer explosion, Gray allegedly began experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. He went to the ER at Thomas Memorial Hospital on September 17, where he was treated and subsequently released.
Nonetheless, his symptoms seemingly reappeared the following day, spurring his second visit to the hospital’s emergency department. Sadly, this visit would be his last. Gray died September 18, 2010 at the age of 19.
According to autopsy reports, Gray died of pulmonary embolism, which is described as “a blood clot in the main artery of the lungs.” Portia Gray subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her son in Kanawha Circuit Court.
The lawsuit names Bayer, West Virginia State University and the West Virginia Department of Education as defendants. The lawsuit claims Bayer upheld a substandard level of maintenance at the Institute plant and failed to warn the public of potentially hazardous chemicals released as a result of the blast.
The suit further alleges air monitors, meant to detect unsafe substances and trigger alarms when necessary, were deactivated for maintenance on the same day as the explosion.
Gray allegedly complained to the university about the condition of his dorm room several times prior to his death, but to no avail. For that reason, Portia Gray also sued the school and state Board of Education.
The pending litigation seeks unspecified damages. While two Bayer employees were killed in the August 2008 explosion, this is the first wrongful death lawsuit filed in connection with the incident.
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