“Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded”
The state appeals court ruled today in a case arising from a lower court ruling nearly four and a half years ago in Oconee County. The court in Columbia acted in the appeal of Oconee residents Scott and Tammy Lawing against Trinity Manufacturing and Matrix Outsourcing. The two companies were affiliated with a supply company for a Seneca manufacturing company. It was at that plant where a fire and explosion in 2004 injured maintenance worker Scott Lawing and two of his co-workers. The plant, Engelhard Manufacturing, operates today as BASF. According to the ruling, a “flash” was seen on a pallett of sodium bromide. “Within two or three seconds, an ‘inferno’ ‘erupted’ from the pallets and shot up into the pipe rack. Lawing jumped from the rack to the lift but could not get away from the fire….” The Court of Appeals concluded: “We AFFIRM the trial court’s decision to charge the jury on the sophisticated user doctrine. However, we REVERSE the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment on Lawing’s strict liability cause of action, and we REMAND to the circuit court for a new trial only on that cause of action.” An Oconee jury’s ruling in December 2008 awarded damages to five plaintiffs, including three Engelhard workers, to compensate for medical costs and other damages. That verdict held responsible Engelhard chemical supplier Univar USA. Since then, according to Larry Brandt, one of the Lawings’ attorneys, a settlement was reached with Univar.