Texas judge issues restraining orders in Port Arthur refinery death

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 08, 2015 7:25 PM

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas district judge issued temporary restraining orders on Tuesday to preserve evidence in the death of a bulldozer operator at Total SA's Port Arthur, Texas, refinery on Saturday, according to court documents.

Thomas Counts, a Kinder Morgan Inc employee, drowned when the bulldozer he was operating in a coker pit at the Total refinery overturned in scalding water early on Saturday, according to law enforcement officials.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department had previously identified the victim as Thomas Courts. A Sheriff's Department official did not reply to a request to explain the difference in names.

The restraining orders require Total, Kinder Morgan, which operates a petroleum coke terminal in Port Arthur, and the refinery's manager to preserve the scene of and all records relating to the accident until a hearing in the Jefferson County District Court.

"We will not comment on pending litigation," said Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Sara Hughes in an emailed statement.

Wanda Counts was identified in the documents as the representative of Thomas Counts' estate but her relationship to him was not explained.

Wanda Counts' attorney was not immediately available to discuss the temporary restraining orders. A Total representative was also unavailable.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Diane Craft)