Employee worked to ATI. His duties required that he work close to a chemical reactor. On 12/08/11, another employee noticed a foul smell and tried to locate a leak around the reactor system. A third employee found Employee lying face up on the floor 15 to 20 feet away. He died without regaining consciousness. According to the autopsy, the Employee died from “complications from hydrogen sulfide toxicity.” His widow filed a for workers’ compensation benefits
action. She provided that the bag used in the mixing process had 50 times the amount of sulfur usually used causing both of the other employees to complain of a headache and one to complain of a burning sensation in his throat. ATI’s expert stated that the Employee’s physical findings were consistent with any number of causes of death other than chemical exposure. The Court determined that Employee’s accidental exposure to hydrogen sulfate gas “caused or contributed to his death.” ATI appealed.
The Appeals Court stated that it was undisputed that the Employee was exposed to hydrogen sulfide and that both ATI’s expert and the medical examiner agreed that the Employee exhibited finding consistent with death due to exposure. The Court further stated that ATI did not present substantial evidence that Employee did not die from exposure.