Toxic Accident Forces Family Apart
COLUMBIA, Tenn. (CN) - International Paper Co. forced a worker to drench himself in toxic waste so vile it turned his entire body the color of paper and left his wife covered with sores, forcing them to send their children away for fear they would be poisoned too, the family claims in court.
Kimberly Ann Davis and Andrew Warren Davis sued TIN Inc. dba International Paper Co. dba Temple Inland, in Federal Court.
Andrew Davis began working at International Paper's New Johnsonville, Tenn. paper plant in 2004, recycling wood products into paper board.
The complaint states: "In October 2010, Andrew Davis was working on a pulper tub at the New Johnsonville plant. An employee had overlooked a crucial water line which was supposed to be attached to the pulper. This caused a drain valve to become blocked. Andrew Davis was told by his supervisor to 'ram it' with an apparatus hooked to a modified truck. The level of waste in the pulper was at its maximum. Then Andrew Davis told the supervisor that he did not think this was a good idea. But the supervisor ordered him to 'just do it.' After ramming the obstructed valve, the pulper blockage broke loose with a force that it pushed the truck sideways and the entire contents in the pulper flowed over the top of the truck and completely drenched Andrew Davis who was sitting inside the truck. This waste matter from the pulper soaked Andrew Davis' entire body including the inside of his eyes, ears, nose, and his scalp and feet.
"The contents of the pulper tub which was poured over Andrew Davis was made of highly toxic substances containing silicone silica.
"Andrew Davis continued to work at pulper No. 3, being exposed to silica for several weeks. Thereafter, Andrew Davis continued to work at TIN in and around toxic chemicals, containing silicone silica.
"Within several weeks of being soaked with the toxic waste, Andrew Davis began to experience a loss of energy and cramping. Andrew Davis also experienced a rash on his skin and then sores on his neck and arms, Andrew Davis' skin eventually turned the color of paper pulp. Andrew Davis reported all of these symptoms to the defendants at the time they happened.
"On the day, Andrew Davis was exposed to the toxic waste of pulper No. 3, he returned home where his wife, plaintiff wife Davis, lived. Andrew Davis had normal interactions with his wife. And, over a period of time, after the initial exposure to toxic waste, Andrew Davis continued to come home after having been exposed to the presence of toxic silicone silica while at his job at TIN and exposed his wife to toxic silica that was on his clothes and skin.
"On the day of the incident when he was soaked with toxic waste, and for the rest of his employment at TIN, Andrew Davis exposed his wife, the plaintiff, to toxic silicone silica.
"Within several days of initially being exposed to the silica waste from her husband's skin and clothes, plaintiff Davis began to experience painful sores all over her body. Plaintiff experienced painful skin problems for the next several years and even though she sought medical attention was never given a diagnosis for the illness.
"After a period of time Andrew Davis and plaintiff Davis sent their three children to live with their grandparents fearing they might become exposed to the same toxic contaminate from which they were suffering. ...
"At different times the Davis' would allow their children to come home but not be with them for any long amount of time.
"Neither Andrew David nor the plaintiff Davis knew what was causing their skin rashes and sores. Both went to numerous doctors and clinics but no one could tell them what was causing their condition.
"In December of 2008, the plaintiff Davis quit her job teaching school because of her skin condition which was becoming very, serious and completely interfered with her ability to work.
"In 2010 and 2011, plaintiff Davis sought help from several specialists in an attempt to obtain a diagnosis for her condition. However, no doctor was able to diagnose her condition.
"However, in May of 2013, plaintiff Davis finally was able to obtain a diagnosis of her condition. She was diagnosed as suffering from Karjoo's skin phenomenon, a perforatory disorder of skin due to contamination of silicone silica, the same toxic substance that Andrew Davis was exposed to while working at TIN."
The Davises seek $7 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages for negligence, recklessness and gross indifference.
They are represented by Phillip L. Davidson in Nashville.