On Friday morning, a hyperbaric chamber explosion killed a veterinary employee and a horse in Marion County, Florida. 28-year-old Erica Marshall died at the KESMARC Florida Equine Rehab Center in Oclala after a horse being treated in the chamber purportedly began to kick and the metal on its horseshoe ignited a spark. Fellow employee Sorcha Moneley, 33, was also injured in the blast. She was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.
Hyperbaric chambers are used to create environments that contain higher than normal levels of oxygen. Use of the chambers is highly regulated and requires extensive safety training. In humans, the chambers are generally used to treat divers for sickness resulting from pressure changes, more commonly known as “the bends.” At KESMARC, the chamber was used to treat a variety of equine illnesses and injuries.
Marshall worked at the facility for approximately two years and was reportedly well trained on the use of hyperbaric chambers. Although horses inside the chamber are normally sedated, the one in the chamber at the time of the blast was not. Marshall was monitoring the horse using a closed circuit video system and had already begun to shut the chamber down when it exploded. Hyperbaric chambers must shut down in a series of steps to protect patients, however. It was during the shutdown phase when the horse inside allegedly kicked away the chamber’s protective coating. His next kick struck the chamber’s metal walls and ignited an explosion which purportedly rattled windows for miles.
Although seriously injured in the explosion, Moneley reportedly told emergency responders what caused the explosion. The horse killed was undergoing treatment for a neurological disease. An additional 30 horses were later removed from the partially collapsed facility unharmed. Questions are being asked regarding why the horse was not sedated and why he was allowed to enter the chamber wearing horseshoes. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration is currently investigating the explosion.
In Florida, the manufacturer of a product may be held strictly liable if a product failed to function as intended or according to safety standards and the failure resulted in injury or death. If a product is defective, a manufacturer may be held liable regardless of whether any negligence occurred. Manufacturing defects, insufficient operating instructions, failure to warn consumers, and design defects can all lead to a finding of strict liability. If you were injured as a result of a defective or poorly designed product, it is highly recommended you contact an experienced products liability lawyer.
At Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A., our knowledgeable South Florida defective products attorneys can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our law firm represents clients throughout Florida including Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Broward County, Dade County, and Palm Beach County. To speak with a skilled products liability lawyer today, call Lazarus & Lazarus at (954) 356-0006. You are also welcome to contact us through our website.
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Explosion kills woman, horse at equine medical facility, by Dave D’Marko, cfnews13.com