An Illinois man is suing Apogee Enterprises Inc. and various other groups in Wisconsin federal court. The complaint alleges Apogee violated safety procedures and acted negligently following an incident at Linetec, an architectural coating and finishing plant operated by Apogee.

According to the plaintiff’s amended complaint, John Douglas Rayburn was tasked with determining the cause and origin of a Sept. 16, 2020, fire at Linetec’s plant in Wausau, Wis. Rayburn alleges that on Sept. 21, 2020, he and an associate arrived at Linetec to conduct post-fire interviews and perform inspections. Before the inspections, Rayburn claims he inquired about personal protective equipment to protect from certain chemicals, such as sulfuric acid.

The complaint states that employees told him that no equipment was necessary and that this was because “Linetec had made plant conditions safe for the investigators by discharging all sulfuric acid from its plant, including its machines and associated piping, and that all chemical hazards were removed from the plant post-fire.”

However, upon inspection, Rayburn claims he was injured after a standpipe full of sulfuric acid broke, spraying him and severely burning his skin. He ran to an OSHA eyewash and shower station to wash the acid off. The station was disabled. He had to run to a second station to remove the acid.

Rayburn writes he suffered “severe, disfiguring and permanent physical, mental and emotional injuries leading to embarrassment, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium and

enjoyment of relationships, past medical bills and the need for continued future care.”

Rayburn argues that Apogee failed to:

  • Adequately discharge all chemistry from the piping related to the anodizing line before the inspection;
  • Failed to provide safeguards at the anodizing line;
  • Failed to dictate that he wear hazardous materials equipment; and
  • Failed to keep and maintain operable condition OSHA-required emergency eyewash and shower stations.

Rayburn is also suing ABC Insurance Company, Apogee Wausau Group, DEF Insurance Company and HIJ Insurance Company. He seeks damages to be determined at trial, punitive damages and costs, disbursements and attorney fees.

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