Indiana Judge Dismisses Unions From Burned Man’s Suit

December 16, 2013

An eastern Indiana judge has dismissed two unions from a lawsuit that was filed by a man badly burned when he fell into a tank of chemicals heated to about 200 degrees.

The Wayne Circuit Court judge dismissed Teamsters Local 135 and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from Zachary M. Hale’s lawsuit after attorneys for the groups filed motions citing federal rules that pre-empt unions from civil action in such cases.

Hale was 22 when he fell in June 2011 into a tank at Levi Holdings that contained caustic soda heated to about 200 degrees. The chemical is used in cleaning tanker trucks, the Palladium-Item reported.

Hale, who lives in Richmond, survived near-fatal injuries and infection from burns from his chest down that covered more than 60 percent of his body. Doctors initially thought they might have to amputate his legs.

His mother, Tammy Hale, said Friday that her son is now able to walk without aid and is “living day to day and still has limitations” caused by the burns and scar tissues.

His lawsuit, filed in June, seeks a judgment that includes monetary damages of an “amount which will fully and fairly compensate him for all his loss and damage.”

The lawsuit was filed against Miller Transporters Inc., VanVleet Insurance Agency and several others insurance companies. It alleges that his burns “have been excruciatingly painful and disabling and scarring.”

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