Fox 13 reported a hazmat event at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Clinic on Thursday morning resulted in three people being hospitalized and ten others treated for minor injuries. The incident was triggered by a bank of lithium-ion batteries that were discovered to be swelling and off-gassing inside the facility located at 12220 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33612.
According to clinic authorities, the facility experienced power issues the day before, which were believed to have been caused by a lightning strike and severe weather in the area. However, on Thursday morning, upon entering the building, employees detected an unusual odor emanating from the MRI room and immediately called 911.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) crews rushed to the scene at 12220 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Tampa and identified the source of the problem - a bundle of lithium-ion batteries that had swelled and were releasing dangerous gases. HCFR deployed a specialized hazmat team to assess the situation further.
Firefighters on the scene confirmed that approximately 30 lithium-ion batteries, each weighing around 100 pounds, were off-gassing, with two of them having ruptured, leading to the hazardous incident. Fortunately, there was no fire risk or fire during the event, but the gases emitted by the batteries were potentially toxic.
Out of an abundance of caution, the entire rack of batteries was swiftly removed from the building. Crews will now take precautionary measures by placing each battery in a neutralizing agent and securing them in drums. A third-party disposal service will be responsible for safely removing the hazardous materials.
Ron Herrin, Public Information Officer (PIO) with HCFR, highlighted the dangers posed by the off-gassing lithium-ion batteries. "These batteries contain a bunch of gases that could be toxic, the biggest concern of which was hydrogen, which was detected in high explosive levels during the incident," Herrin stated.
In response to the potential hazards, the clinic promptly evacuated approximately 80 people, including patients and employees. All individuals were screened for any symptoms resulting from exposure to the toxic gases. Fortunately, only three employees required medical attention for respiratory concerns, and they have since been released from the hospital, according to clinic officials.
In the aftermath of the recent hazmat scare at the clinic, questions arise about the legal avenues available to victims who suffered injuries due to lithium-ion batteries. To shed light on this pressing issue, we sat down with product liability attorney, Michael Haggard, Esq., a seasoned lawyer based in Florida. In this interview, Mr. Haggard provides valuable insights into who can potentially be held liable in such cases.
Darla Medina: As you know, the recent incident was caused by swelling lithium-ion batteries that released potentially toxic fumes. Can you explain what legal options might be available for the victims injured due to these types of batteries?
Michael Haggard: Certainly, Darla. When individuals suffer injuries or health issues due to exposure to hazardous materials or defective products they may have grounds to pursue a civil case against those accountable. In such cases, a product liability claim would be appropriate.
Darla Medina: Could you elaborate on what a product liability claim entails and how it relates to this situation?
Michael Haggard: Of course. Product liability claims are based on the idea that manufacturers and distributors have a duty to provide safe products to consumers. When a product like these batteries proves to be dangerous and causes harm, they can be held legally responsible for the resulting injuries. In many cases, other entities involved could potentially be held liable if their actions or negligence contributed to the hazardous incident.
Darla Medina: It sounds like identifying the responsible parties can be complex. How can victims proceed with such a legal claim?
Michael Haggard: Establishing liability in product liability cases can indeed be challenging. Victims injured would need to gather evidence to demonstrate that the batteries were defectively designed, manufactured, or lacked proper warnings regarding the potential dangers. Working with experienced personal injury attorneys is crucial in building a strong case and determining all liable parties involved.
Darla Medina: And how important is it for victims to act promptly in pursuing such a claim?
Michael Haggard: Time is of the essence in these cases. Victims should not delay in seeking legal advice and representation, as there are statutes of limitations in place, which limit the time in which a claim can be filed. Waiting too long may result in the loss of their right to seek compensation for their injuries and damages.
Darla Medina: That's vital information, Mr. Haggard. Before we conclude, is there any advice you'd like to offer to the potential victims of such incidents?
Michael Haggard: Certainly. If you or someone you know has been injured due to exposure to hazardous or defective products, seek medical attention immediately and then consult with a qualified personal injury attorney. Remember, you have rights, and holding those responsible for your injuries accountable is essential to obtaining the compensation you deserve.