MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 9, 2009

Suit filed against Yaffe in worker’s death after explosion

Yaffe Iron and Metal Co., Inc., its affiliate in Arkansas and The Yaffe Companies Inc. have been sued in LeFlore County in the November death of an employee.

Another defendant in the suit is TEC, The Employment Company, an Arkansas corporation. TEC attorney F. Jason Goodnight referred questions to Yaffe attorney Bradley A. Jackson, who was out of his Tulsa office Thursday.

The parents of Stephen Chance Fontenot, Tammy Baggett and Steve Fontenot, allege the three Yaffe entities are related parties involved in the facility where Fontenot was killed.

Glenn Yaffe, chief executive officer of The Yaffe Companies Inc., could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Fontenot, 25, was working as a temporary employee at the Yaffe scrap metal facility in Arkoma on Nov. 3 when the 105 mm Howitzer artillery shell he was cutting with a blow torch exploded.

The suit alleges:

• The explosives had been provided to Yaffe Iron and Metal by its parent company, The Yaffe Companies.

• Fontenot was assured by his supervisors the munitions were not “live” or explosive.

• Unknown to Fontenot at the time, other Yaffe employees and supervisors previously had refused to perform the cutting activity.

• As Fontenot began to cut into the Howitzer shell, it exploded, severing one of his legs, blowing a block of steel into his groin and causing other horrendous and horrifying injuries throughout his body.

• After screaming for help, he was transported to the intensive care unit of a Fort Smith, Ark., hospital, where he remained for 16 days until his death from cardiac arrest and sepsis resulting directly from the injuries he suffered at Yaffe Iron and Metal.

• Both Yaffe Iron and Metal and The Yaffe Companies have a history of explosions at their salvage yard sites, in some cases resulting in significant damage to property and life.

• On Dec. 28, 2004, at the Yaffe facility in Muskogee, an explosion killed three people and injured 14 others.

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