Suit filed in connection with head injury at plant

News Herald


A Titusville woman, appointed by the court as guardian for her incapacitated husband, has filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking damages from his employer and another firm.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh by attorney Neil R. Rosen on behalf of Lenise Thomeier, the permanent guardian of Stephen Thomeier.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Rhone-Poulenc Specialty Chemicals Co. of New Jersey and Pennzoil Co. of Oil City. Rhone-Poulenc operates a plant in Cornplanter Township. Pennzoil owns and operates a refinery near Rhone-Poulenc.

The lawsuit lists two counts, seeking damages in excess of $50,000 each.

The lawsuit says Stephen Thomeier was injured and incapacitated following an accident Oct. 14, 1993, as he was standing in the area of a two-inch bleed line Rhone-Poulenc.

Thomeier was employed as a maintenance supervisor with Rhone-Poulenc.

The lawsuit states “the bleed line assembly suddenly and without warning began to rotate on its axis. When the bleed line assembly began rotating, it struck (the) plaintiff in the head with extreme force, causing plaintiff to suffer … serious and severe injuries.”

The court action alleges the accident occurred after a diesel pump that supplied a fire water system to the Rhone-Poulenc plant failed, leaving the property without a supply of water to fight any fire.

The lawsuit says Rhone-Poulenc maintained an agreement with Pennzoil. Under that agreement, Pennzoil was to supply a back-up source of water through a pipe that started on the Pennzoil property, connected to a pipe owned by Rhone-Poulenc and eventually connected to Rhone-Poulenc’s fire water line.
Because the pipe was above ground and subject to freezing, the lawsuit says, the pipe was kept empty.

On the day of the accident, the lawsuit says, Pennzoil employees activated the back-up system. The lawsuit claims the force of the water or air through the pipe caused the bleeder assembly to begin rotating out of control, striking the plaintiff.

As a result of the accident, the lawsuit states Thomeier’s health and earning capacity have been seriously and permanently impaired.

Because of the seriousness and permanence of those injuries, the suit says Thomeier was adjudicated “a totally incapacitated person” on Jan. 27, 1994, by Crawford County Court.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial.