Ailing Decatur man sues Daikin-America after alleged chemical exposure

Alabama

DECATUR, Ala. – Another Daikin-America employee is suing the company’s Decatur plant after reportedly being injured by an alleged chemical exposure on the job in July.

Will Delashaw is being treated at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for lung injuries after being exposed to chemicals at work, his lawyers allege in a lawsuit filed September 16.

Attorneys from Beasley Allen allege Delashaw was one of three people who were exposed to the toxic chemical on July 2. All three were hospitalized and 20-year employee Wesley Rusk later died after that exposure on August 10.

Rusk’s wife Sharona spoke with News 19 shortly after his death and said her husband told her about what happened at the Daikin plant that night, “There were three of them out there, outside, working on the towers. There are two towers that the chemicals flow through. Supposedly the excess chemicals flow into what they called the pit. When they went out that night, the smell from the pit was different than what it had been in the past.”

Beasley Allen Principal Investigator Kendall Dunson said, “Delashaw is fighting for his life. If he survives, his life will be forever changed. He’ll need a lung transplant and medical attention for the rest of his life. It is unlikely he will ever work again.”

The Occupation Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) is investigating the July 2 incident and another chemical exposure that happened in 2019.

Darby Dockery and another person were allegedly exposed to an unknown chemical that caused severe lung damage to both, Dockery’s attorney told News 19.

Dockery, like Delashaw, was in the ICU for months and placed on the transplant list for new lungs. She died from COVID-19 complications on Thursday, her lawyer said. Dockery’s family also filed a lawsuit against Daikin-America that her attorney, Randy Ferguson, confirmed will still go on after her death.

“The facts speak for themselves,” Dunson said. “You have multiple incidents that refer to a mystery gas that is injuring and killing people. This shouldn’t have happened again.”

A spokesperson for Daikin released the following statement Monday to News 19:

We are very saddened that on July 2, 2021, three of our employees (plant operators) were exposed to a chemical hazard. After a few days, each of them began experiencing symptoms and ultimately had to be hospitalized. Sadly, our long-time colleague and friend, Wesley Rusk, passed away on August 10th, and the whole Daikin family is mourning our loss. Another one of the three operators remains in the hospital and in serious condition. The third operator has been released from the hospital and continues to make good progress recovering at home. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families. The plant is operating safely, and Daikin has been thoroughly investigating the facts, circumstances, and potential causes. Based on this investigation, we have implemented additional measures to help ensure the health and safety of our team members. Regarding your question about the lawsuit, we do not comment on pending litigation.

Forrest Keith,
Daikin Spokesperson

No trial date has been set for Delashaw’s case. Dockery’s case is set to go to trial in Spring 2022.

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