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Widow Sues DuPont for Fatal Gas Leak

HOUSTON (CN) - A worker died Saturday from inhaling toxic gas that leaked from a valve at a DuPont plant in Texas, his widow claims in court.

Michelle Tisnado, widow of Gilbert Tisnado, sued E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in Harris County Court on Monday.

The gas leak also killed three other workers, among them Tisnado's brother, Robert Tisnado.

Gilbert Tisnado worked in the crop protection division at DuPont's La Porte plant, according to the complaint. La Porte is an industrial city 30 minutes southeast of Houston, near the Houston Ship Channel.

"The crop protection unit stored methyl mercaptan in liquid form, which is a hazardous chemical used to make insecticide and fungicide," the complaint states.

"In the early morning of November 15, 2014, a valve on one of defendant's containers of methyl mercaptan failed. The valve failure caused the methyl mercaptan to leak and spread throughout the plant."

Once methyl mercaptan is exposed to air it becomes a toxic gas.

Known for its putrid smell, the substance is added to natural gas and propane to aid in the detection of gas leaks.

"Decedent was exposed to the toxic gas as he was working to repair the valve. Due to the exposure, decedent suffered injury that resulted in his death," Michelle Tisnado says in the complaint.

She seeks punitive damages of than $1 million for wrongful death, and medical and funeral expenses.

Plant manager Randall Clements also is named as a defendant.

Tisnado is represented by Clay Dugas of Beaumont, Texas.

DuPont immediately released a statement about the incident.

"There are no words to fully express the loss we feel or the concern and sympathy we extend to the families of the four employees who died on November 15, and their co-workers," DuPont stated on its website.

"We continue to be directly engaged with the families to provide them every measure of support and assistance during this difficult time. We are working closely with local, state and federal authorities as they conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, which will take some time."

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