A former employee at chemical manufacturer Yara Trinidad Limited, who was left 20 per cent partially disabled after falling while addressing an oil leak at the company’s plant in 2019, has sued the company for negligence.
Lawyers representing Pravesh Ramlagan, of La Romaine, who was terminated by the company on medical grounds in April, last year, filed the lawsuit late last week.
According to his court filings, obtained by Guardian Media, Ramlagan suffered the injury at the company’s plant in Savonetta, Point Lisas, while working as a process plant operator on May 9, 2019.
Ramlagan claimed that shortly after midnight he noticed a leak from the lubrication oil pump skid attached to a feed gas compressor.
He claimed that he used a degreaser provided by the company to clear the area and investigate the leak.
Ramlagan claimed that while maneuvering in the tight area, he slipped and fell.
Ramlagan informed his supervisor of his injuries and was advised to visit the company’s medical centre but found it empty when he arrived.
“Thus, the claimant had no alternative but to personally tend to his injuries with the medical supplies he found, and he performed first-aid on himself by cleaning and bandaging his injuries with the help of a contracted security guard,” Ramlagan’s lawyer Saira Lakhan said.
After treating the injuries, Ramlagan completed his shift.
After a brief meeting with company officials over the accident including revisiting the scene, Ramlagan was taken to the company’s doctor. He claimed that he was transported in a company pick-up truck as it refused to use its ambulance.
Ramlagan, whose injuries included the rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, underwent operations and remained on sick leave for several months before he was cleared to return to work.
However, shortly after returning to work, Ramlagan complained of still experiencing excruciating pain and discomfort.
He was eventually terminated in April, last year.
In the lawsuit, Ramlagan is claiming that the company was negligent in allegedly failing to properly maintain its plant and in providing adequate safety equipment as the pump had been allegedly leaking since 2017.
He is also alleging that the company failed to adhere to its obligations under several provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) as it allegedly did not implement recommendations made by its health and safety committee.
Through the lawsuit, Ramlagan is seeking a little over $160,000 in compensation for what he spent on his medical expenses and on transportation costs when he could not drive after the accident and undergoing surgery.
He is also seeking compensation for his pain and suffering as he has to continuously wear a knee brace and is precluded from engaging in extensive physical activity.
“The claimant presently suffers from anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and he is self-conscious about walking with a limp at his age as he considers himself to be a young adult,” Lakhan said.
Although Ramlagan received almost $360,000 under the Workmen’s Compensation Act after being terminated, he is seeking additional compensation for his future loss of earnings.
“The claimant avers that he is also entitled to a lump sum payment for loss of earning capacity as his ability to work was seriously impaired. The Claimant would be at a disadvantage in the labour market,” Lakhan said.
Ramlagan’s lawyer suggested that the loss of earnings should be calculated based on him being 34-years-old when he was terminated, the company’s retirement age being 60, and his monthly salary, benefits and bonuses of almost $50,000 before termination.
Ramlagan is also seeking damages for his future medical care as he claims that his doctors informed him that he had a 75 percent chance of requiring a total knee replacement in 10 to 15 years time.
The company is yet to file its defence to the lawsuit.