Claimants say exposed at softball tourney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Staff Reporter

RESERVE-A class-action lawsuit has been filed against a facility in Reserve after plaintiffs said they were exposed to toxic chemicals released from there as a result of improper handling.

CBSL Transportation Services, Inc, is the defendant named in the lawsuit filed by Theresa and Daniel Leblanc and Dawn and Jamie Klibert.

A spokesman from CBSL was unavailable for comment on the suit, as of press time.

The Leblancs and Kliberts filed on behalf of others similarly affected, as well as the Leblanc’s two minor children.

According to the petition, which was submitted by the law office of Daniel E. Becnel, Jr, the petitioners were attending a softball tournament at Riverside Academy in Reserve on April 2, when they were exposed to the fumes of toxic chemicals they believe originated from CBSL Transportation.

Daniel Becnel Jr., said this is important to the public because the plant was in violation of environmental stan-

dards and putting the public at risk.

“Some people were taken away in an ambulance,” Becnel said,” They got physically ill right then and there.”

Petitioners believe the chemical released was a cloud of butyl acrylate and/or ethyl acrylate, which can cause skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation.

The lawsuit is also bringing action against Tim Tittlebach, who was managing the facility at the time of the incident.

According to Becnel, when trucks holding chemicals need to be cleaned, there is a scrubber used to keep chemicals from escaping into the air.

“If the scrubber is not working, you can’t clean,” Becnel said, “well, the scrubber was not working, so they were venting this into the atmosphere.”

Along with failing to correctly utilize the scrubber and allow the fumes to migrate into the community, the petition also alleges the facility failed to warn those in the area of the release of the hazardous fumes.

“They did not notify the DEQ when it happened, Becnel said, ” not until people started getting sick.

Becnel also said the cleaning up process was delayed because the fire department had responded to the scene, didn’t know what chemical they were measuring for.

“It turned into a detective story, and we traced it back to them,” he said.

The petitioners also allege the chemical leak has caused not only medical complications, but emotional damages, economic damages and property value diminution.

The class consists of all those in the Riverside Academy area at the time of the leak, and may grow once the area affected is assessed.

“This is the same source of liability,” Becnel said, “We’re focusing on atmosphere and that everyone (at the softball game) was hunky dory, but all injuries happened at the same time.”

Becnel hopes to see CBSL liable for damages and believes the company acted in an irresponsible manner that put the citizens of Reserve in a dire situation.

“These chemical plants have accidents, but this was controllable,” he said, “They didn’t have to clean.”