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Mother of dead plant worker files lawsuit, seeks damages

GULFPORT — The mother of a 24-year-old man who died last year during a machinery incident at Omega Protein has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company.

The suit, filed by Cynthia Hebert, the mother of Christopher Allen Hebert, seeks unspecified damages.

The suit was filed April 5 in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. No date has been set for the company to file a response.

Omega Protein spokesman Ben Landry in Houston, Texas, said the company would not comment on pending litigation.

Hebert was dragged into a conveyor as he did maintenance work on April 9, 2012, and died from blood loss related to his injuries, according to Jackson County authorities. Hebert had worked at Omega Protein in Moss Point for three years.

On the day he was killed, the lawsuit says Hebert’s safety monitor left while he was inside the conveyor and that another worker turned on the machinery, dragging him to his death.

The company operates a menhaden, or pogy, fishing fleet and processing facility in Moss Point, and it produces fish oils and fish meal for human consumption and for use in aquaculture, agriculture and industrial applications.

Also named as defendants in the suit are ACE American Insurance Co. and ESIS Inc. risk management service provider.

Because the company did not have safety lock features on the conveyor and left Hebert alone to work on it, “Omega Protein, by and through its employees, engaged in intentional conduct designed to bring about injury, or death, to Christopher,” the lawsuit says.

In September 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Omega Protein with 25 safety and health violations based on an inspection prompted by Hebert’s death. The EEOC proposed a fine of $79,200.

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