Family of Injured Employee Sues Rouge Steel, Ford

The family of a worker who was hurt in an explosion at the Rouge Steel Co. mill and died two years later, has filed a lawsuit against Rouge and Ford Motor Co.

Eddie J. Taylor was working in one of the Mills at the Rouge facility in Dearborn, Mich. in August 1996 when a steam pipe exploded.

Taylor was knocked to the ground by the blast and was burned over a large part of his body.

He died in July 1998 as a result of injuries suffered in the explosion, attorney Gerard Mantese said in a news release.

Mantese, the family's attorney, said the suit names both Ford and Rouge because two companies jointly owned and operated the power plant and power distribution equipment at the steel mill, which caused the explosion.

Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said the automaker expects to be dismissed from the litigation because the accident occurred on Rouge Steel property.

Bill Hornberger, Rouge Steel senior vice president, said the allegations in the suit "are grossly misleading and inaccurate."

"Mr. Taylor returned from his medical leave in May 1997 to work in his regular job for over a year prior to his death," said Hornberger in a news release.

Six workers were killed at the same power plant last year in an explosion that destroyed the facility.

Mantese represented the families of some of the workers killed in that accident.

The suit also says Ford and Rouge ignored safety hazards at the facility, that Taylor was required to work in unsafe conditions without the proper safety equipment.

Ford settled all the claims relating to the 1999 Ford-Rouge power plant explosion for a total of approximately $30 million.

That accident that killed six and injured 14 others, resulted in a $1.5 million OSHA fine against Ford, the largest in state history.

"Eddie Taylor gave his life for his work," said Mantese. "He deserves no less from Ford Motor Co. and Rouge Steel than the workers who died in the Feb. 1, 1999 explosion."

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