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Lockhart v. Fuji Hunt Photographic Chemicals

October 30, 2007

SONJA GAIL LOCKHART AND JERRY RANDALL LOCKHART IN THEIR CAPACITIES AS CO-ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF MICHAEL W. LOCKHART, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FUJI HUNT PHOTOGRAPHIC CHEMICALS, INC. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: R. Allan Edgar United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Defendant Fuji Hunt Photographic Chemicals, Inc. ("Fuji Hunt") moves to dismiss the claim of Plaintiffs Sonja Gail Lockhart and Jerry Randall Lockhart, in their capacities as co-Administrators of the Estate of Michael W. Lockhart ("Plaintiffs") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [Court Doc. No. 3]. Plaintiffs oppose the motion to dismiss. [Court Doc. No. 7]. The court has reviewed the pleadings and the applicable law and concludes that Fuji Hunt's motion will be GRANTED.

I. Background Facts

Plaintiffs bring a claim for compensatory and punitive damages against Fuji Hunt for the wrongful death of their son, Michael W. Lockhart. [Court Doc. No. 1-2, Complaint]. Michael Lockhart worked for Fuji Hunt as an operator, and his work required his proximity to a photographic chemical distillation process in August of 2006. Id. The complaint alleges the following events occurred:

5. That on or about August 2, 2006, at about 8:00 a.m., the Defendant FUJI HUNT . . . began the distillation of more than eight hundred (800) gallons of a liquid called OXAD Mother Liquor in a one thousand (1,000) gallon tank with the intent to recover, by distilling off, a compound call PYM (methyl pivaloylacetate) from the mother liquor. . . .

6. That, upon information and belief, the process which the Defendant FUJI HUNT . . . began on August 2, 2006, was developed by one person and approved by several management personnel without having consulted with any operators or shift leaders who were also not consulted on the development of any hazard analysis for the operation;

7. That, upon information, the written distillation process procedure . . . was deviated in that the temperature was raised beyond any temperature listed in the procedure (and beyond a safe temperature level) and no change analysis was performed when temperatures in the distillation were raised to unsafe levels;

8. That, upon information and belief, no effective safety change analysis of the newly-developed process, including its operating procedures, was conducted before this new distillation process was performed;

9. That, upon information and belief, the Defendant. . . did not provide the operators and shift leaders with training in the procedure before it was utilized;

10. That, upon information and belief, the written work practice for the distillation . . . did not have instructions for dealing with emergency situations such as the development of a runaway exothermic reaction in the distillation tank;

11. That, upon information and belief, the written work practice for the distillation, . . . was not effectively safe and no safe upper temperature limit for the OXAD ML was provided in the procedure for the last phase of the distillation;

12. That, upon information and belief, no job or expert hazard analysis was performed before the distillation so as to identify and control the potential hazards in the OXAD ML distillation process . . .

14. That, upon information and belief, the Defendant . . . intentionally disregarded other known hazards which were recognized by the industry, its own representatives and common sense when it proceeded with the distillation process;

15. That, at about 4:42 a.m. on August 3, 2006, the manway lid on the top of the distillation tank blew off from over pressure inside the tank which was caused by a runaway chemical action. The flammable gases which exploded emanated from the manway lid opening [sic] caused serious and painful burns to the decedent Michael ...


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