Jury Returns $47 Million Verdict Against Dyno Nobel for Causing Respiratory Injuries to Electrical ForemanPosted on May 3, 2022
St. Louis, Mo. — After more than six years of legal wrangling, a former electrical foreman who suffered serious and permanent injuries after Dyno Nobel (a subsidiary of Incitec Pivot) released excess levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) from its Louisiana, Mo. nitric acid plant was awarded $46.75 million by a jury. Brad Lakin and Rob Schmieder of SL Chapman Trial Lawyers represented Teddy Scott and his wife Melanie. The jury in the Eastern District of Missouri federal court awarded $13.75 million for Teddy Scott and $3 million for Melanie Scott in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages.
“We’re very happy with the jury’s verdict,” Lakin said. “The jury didn’t know that today is Teddy’s birthday. After all the personal attacks, Teddy was elated that the jury understood what he deals with on a daily basis. The jury’s verdict sent a clear message to Dyno Nobel that it can no longer disregard the health and safety of its neighbors”
On March 20, 2015, Teddy Scott and his crew were working at the Calumet synthetic lubricants plant in Louisiana, Mo. — right next to a Dyno Nobel manufacturing plant. Teddy Scott was an electrical foreman and field engineer for Ardent, contracted to work at the Calumet plant on its expansion.
That day, while Dyno Nobel personnel were starting up its nitric acid plant in the early morning hours, an equipment failure happened. In violation of its own policies and procedures, Dyno Nobel didn’t purge the poisonous NOx gas, repaired the equipment, and restarted the plant around 8:15 am while workers were working next door. It was the first documented time that a start-up occurred during working hours. Dyno Nobel failed to inform those working at Calumet about excessive and dangerous emissions that occur during a start-up. Because of Dyno Nobel’s failure to follow its own procedures, a high concentration of poisonous NOx that was never purged from the system after the first failed start-up was released.
While evacuating his crew from the adjacent jobsite, Scott was hit by a cloud of NOx, inhaled the poisonous fumes, and immediately became seriously ill. He and two truckloads of workers were transferred to Pike County Memorial Hospital for treatment.
In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, Scott was rendered to a shell of his former self — not just physically and occupationally, but also emotionally.
Scott was left with significant and permanent pulmonary and neurological damage. He suffers irritable larynx syndrome where he experiences laryngeal spasms one to two times per week. These attacks cause him to experience a feeling of choking to death and often results in him losing consciousness. He will have these episodes for the rest of his life. On one occasion, while walking with his pastor, Teddy had a laryngeal spasm, passed out, and injured a disc in his back. He will never be able to work again.
“The Dyno Nobel plant in Louisiana, Mo. was its only plant without NOx abatement,” Schmieder said. “Dyno Nobel showed complete indifference to its neighbors and the workers at the Calumet site by initiating the start-up during work hours, failing to follow its own work procedures, and didn’t even warn them about the excessive NOx emissions during the start-up. Because of that, Teddy has to live the rest of his life in relative isolation in order to avoid his attacks. His wife, Melanie, has to not only assume Teddy’s responsibilities but also take care of Teddy. This verdict recognizes the devastation to their family.”