Injured Indiana Steelworker Sues Company for $55 Million

September 2, 2008

One of seven men burned when they were engulfed by a fireball at a steel mill a year ago has filed a $55 million lawsuit against ArcelorMittal.

The lawsuit filed by 31-year-old Jeremy Schoon of Valparaiso was announced at a news conference Friday, August 29. The suit, filed in Lake Circuit Court, is believed to be the first against ArcelorMittal stemming from the Burns Harbor accident on Aug. 28, 2007.

The suit also names as defendants two contractors that helped build and design the No. 1 oxygen furnace that exploded that day, attorney Kenneth J. Allen said.

The ball of flame sent molten steel over seven workers, all of whom were injured even though they were wearing flame-retardant protective clothing.

Schoon had second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body. His wife, Veronica, said he now works in an office because “he needs to be temperature-controlled all his life.” He requires daily stretching, daily therapeutic baths and medicine for his skin grafts, she said. He cannot lift his 2-year-old son, she said.

The couple is seeking $5 million for his personal injuries and not less than $50 million in punitive damages.

Allen said he expected other lawsuits to follow. “My sense of it is the other families will follow our lead,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can for these families.”

The Associated Press left a phone message seeking comment on August 31 with ArcelorMittal.

Allen said ArcelorMittal should channel more money from its profits into plant safety.

Information from: Post-Tribune,

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