Man burned in accident sues mill for $15 million | Lawsuit alleges safety precautions not followed

TEXARKANA, Texas - A man who alleges he suffered severe burns and permanent disfigurement while working at the Graphic Packaging mill in Queen City, Texas, in January 2019 is suing the company in a Texarkana federal court.

Montgomery "Monte" Crompton was blasted with 200 degree Fahrenheit steam for 56 seconds on his face, upper torso, legs and back while working to repair a hole in a blowdown header in the mill's powerhouse Jan. 16, 2019, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges proper safety precautions and the mill's own procedures were not followed.

Graphic Packaging could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Hot steam had been escaping from a hole in the header for months at random intervals and concern for worker safety led to a decision to install a steel patch, the complaint states. Before installation of the patch began, Crompton allegedly expressed concern before beginning work that steps to keep steam from escaping through the hole had not been taken.

Crompton alleges a supervisor told him and the two others assigned to work on the patch that the hole had been isolated and no danger existed about 45 minutes later.

"The time of the event was approximately 1:56 p.m., and though in a state of semi-consciousness, with the help of his co-workers Monte walked a distance of approximately two hundred (200) yards to the maintenance shop with burned flesh peeling from his body," the complaint states, and a company nurse had to cut his clothing from his body.

After being treated at Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana, Crompton was airlifted to the burn unit at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

"At that time, the burns to Monte's face had so distorted his appearance that he was unrecognizable even to his immediate family," the complaint states.

Crompton remained in a medically induced coma for 22 days and was determined to have third-degree burns covering 45 percent of his body, according to the complaint.

Crompton complains that he has suffered permanent injury and disfigurement and continues to require physical therapy and other medical treatment.

Crompton and his wife, Heather, filed suit Wednesday against Georgia-based Graphic Packaging in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas with the help of Michael Smith of the Smith Weber law firm of Texarkana.

The Cromptons are seeking $15 million to compensate them for Crompton's physical pain, suffering and mental anguish, for his loss of earnings and future earning capacity and for his wife's loss of consortium.

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III.

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