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Sick Decatur man sues Daikin-America after alleged chemical exposure


DECATUR, Alabama – Another Daikin-America employee is suing the company’s Decatur plant after he was apparently injured by suspected exposure to chemicals on the job in July.

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

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

Rusk’s wife Sharona spoke to News 19 shortly after his death and said her husband told her what happened at the Daikin factory that night: “There were three out there, working on the towers. There are two towers through which chemicals flow. Supposedly, the excess chemicals flow into what they called the pit. When they came out that night, the smell of the pit was different from 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 changed forever. He will need a lung transplant and medical attention for the rest of his life. It is unlikely that he will ever work again.

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

Darby Dockery and one other person were said to have been exposed to an unknown chemical that caused severe lung damage to both of them, Dockery’s lawyer told News 19.

Dockery, like Delashaw, was in intensive care for months and was placed on the list for new lung transplants. She died of complications from COVID-19 on Thursday, her lawyer said. The Dockery family has also filed a lawsuit against Daikin-America which its lawyer Randy Ferguson says will continue after his death.

“The facts speak for themselves,” Dunson said. “You have several incidents which refer to a mysterious gas which injures and kills people. It shouldn’t have happened again. “

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

We are very saddened that on July 2, 2021, three of our employees (plant operators) were exposed to a chemical risk. After a few days, each of them started to experience symptoms and eventually had to be hospitalized. Sadly, our longtime colleague and friend Wesley Rusk passed away on August 10th and the entire Daikin family mourns our loss. Another of the three operators remains in hospital and in serious condition. The third operator was released from the hospital and continues to make good progress in his home recovery. Our hearts and prayers go out to all families. The factory is operating safely and Daikin has thoroughly investigated the facts, circumstances and potential causes. Based on this investigation, we have implemented additional measures to ensure the health and safety of our team members. Regarding your question on the lawsuit, we do not comment on the pending litigation.

Forrest Keith,
Daikin spokesperson

No trial date has been set for the Delashaw case. The Dockery case is expected to be tried in spring 2022.


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