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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

ACE and ESIS Sued in Factory Worker Fatality

April 17th, 2013 - The mother of a factory worker who was combating what he saw as unsafe working conditions is suing the employer and its worker’s compensation insurer after he was killed in an on-site industrial accident.

Christopher Allen “Spanky” Hebert had allegedly complained to both managers of the Moss Point, Mississippi fish oil factory where he worked, as well as headquarters staff in Texas, about what he believed to be dangerous working conditions. In fact, contended plaintiff Cynthia Hebert, her son had begun to organize workers at the Omega Protein Inc. factory into a union in the belief that they could then bargain for better working conditions.

On April 9, 2012, Hebert was sent into a hopper that feeds product into a single-screw conveyor. A safety person assigned to stand guard reportedly left his post, and the conveyor was then turned on, dragging Hebert into it and killing him.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the plant and cited Omega Protein for 25 safety violations. It also proposed a fine of $79,200, saying “this terrible accident could have been avoided if the employer had followed OSHA’s standards for energy control procedures.”

At the time of the accident, ACE Group unit ACE American Insurance Co. had in place a worker’s compensation policy with Omega Protein. According to the suit, ACE had the duty to make safety inspections of the factory and oversee safety and maintenance that would have included lockout safety rules. Omega reportedly did not have its own specific equipment lockout rules.

The suit said that ACE relied on a sister company, ESIS, to conduct inspections.

In her suit, Hebert’s mother charged Omega Protein with intentionally leaving her son unattended inside dangerous, energized and active machinery. She said that ACE American and ESIS breached their duty to inspect the factory or to implement safety rules.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Biloxi, Mississippi, asks for unspecified punitive and actual damages.

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