Boiler Explosion & Inspection Information
Hazards associated with fire, explosions and pressurized steam can make industrial boilers extremely dangerous for those who work around them. As a result, forty-nine states in our country have laws regulating the design, installation, operation, maintenance and inspection of boilers. These safety laws commonly require that boilers and certain pressure vessels pass a yearly safety inspection as a condition to continued legal operation. The safety inspections are routinely performed by insurance company inspectors as opposed to state inspectors. To legally perform these inspections, insurance inspectors typically must be employed by an insurance company that insures the boilers they are inspecting. This requirement ensures these inspectors perform adequate inspections since the insurance company would bear the ultimate risk of loss due to a boiler accident or explosion.
After 7 years of litigation involving a boiler explosion at a Georgia-Pacific paper mill that cost over a million dollars to pursue, the Provost & Umphrey Law Firm discovered that many insurance inspectors are not properly performing these state-required safety inspections. Improper inspections allow dangerous boilers in need of repair or maintenance to illegally remain in operation. Working men and women are being exposed to serious injury and death as a result of these improper inspections. Boilers that would be shut down by a state inspector are being allowed to operate while necessary maintenance and repairs are being delayed or completely ignored. Premise owners - boiler operators are avoiding and delaying expensive repairs and maintenance while workers and surrounding communities bear the risk.
Provost & Umphrey lawyer, Jane Swearingen Leger, and her litigation team also uncovered evidence of a conspiracy between boiler operators and the insurance/inspection industry that resulted in Court findings of improper inspections and fake insurance. The insurance inspectors had no authority under state law to even perform the inspection since they lacked incentive to perform an adequate inspection.
The insurance and inspection company involved in the case Provost & Umphrey recently prosecuted through five weeks of trial was willing to go to extreme lengths to hide their wrongful conduct. The defendant's in-house lawyer was so evasive in his testimony, the trial judge held him in contempt of court and sentenced him to 5 days in jail. Additionally, the company's expert witness admitted he gave false testimony at the company lawyer's request because the lawyer had misrepresented the expert's education and experience in an affidavit filed with the Court. The expert also admitted during his trial testimony that he had attempted to mislead the jury regarding the boiler involved in the explosion. The company's trial counsel was reprimanded by the judge twice during trial for violating the court's orders and lying to the court.
Accidents involving industrial boilers involve complicated questions of both law and liability. Provost & Umphrey has represented the Steelworkers Union for over thirty years in the investigation and pursuit of serious injury and death resulting from industrial accidents and explosions including those in paper mills, refineries, foundries and steel mills. Through this relationship, the law firm has combined its extensive expertise with a collection of nationally recognized experts in the fields of industrial hygiene, mechanical engineering, investigative techniques, medical injuries and life care planning.
During her latest boiler case, Jane obtained thousands of key documents from Georgia-Pacific and its insurance and inspection company - including documents previously treated as privileged under the attorney-client doctrine. As we learned during our litigation, defendants are willing to commit perjury to avoid liability but we have the evidence necessary to expose their conduct and hold them accountable. Our expertise in this area will ensure that an injured victim not be re-victimized by industry and insurance companies during litigation.