Hunt blast trial to start

posted on:
October 23, 2006

author:
Stephanie Taylor

TUSCALOOSA – A jury will hear arguments this week on whether a Texas corporation was responsible for an explosion at Hunt Refinery in May 2001 that left three employees disfigured.

Riley Spain, Kathy Traweek and Terry Williams filed suit against Conex International Corp. of Beaumont, Texas, claiming that the company had not properly performed maintenance on the machinery that malfunctioned the day of the explosion.

Attorney Robert Prince, who is representing Spain and Traweek, said that he plans to argue that the machinery gave a false reading, which the operator relied on to make adjustments to high-octane fuel. It was those adjustments that led to the explosion.

“He assumed that it was correct, but he was making it worse,” Prince said.

Prince said the trial would begin in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge John England’s courtroom today and likely would last through the week.

Spain, of Akron, suffered second- and third-degree burns on 60 percent of his body and will likely undergo 25 surgeries. Traweek suffered first- and second-degree burns. Prince said she wants to return to work but is having a difficulty overcoming the trauma of the explosion. Both are undergoing physical therapy.

Williams suffered second- and third-degree burns on 40 percent of his body. He lost an ear and will require reconstructive surgery.

Reach Stephanie Taylor at Stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.

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