Man claims injuries caused by Prosser grape waste

  • Fri Nov 4th, 2011 2:22pm
  • News

Associated Press

PROSSER — A Washington man has filed a lawsuit against a Prosser farm, claiming he suffered burns by falling into a pit of grape waste that wasn’t disclosed as a hazard when his family bought the land last year.

Benjamin Fox, 32, told authorities he suffered second- and third-degree burns in March when he fell into a pit of hidden and smoldering grape pomace.

Fox filed suit in June in Benton County Superior Court against Whitney Farms Inc., of Prosser, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Friday.

Whitney Farms also owned the property in 1996, when Phillip Hickle, then 16, slipped into a smoldering pit of grape waste. His legs were burned so badly they had to be amputated.

Hickle sued Whitney Farms and two fruit processors following his accident and settled out of court with all three parties.

A message seeking comment was left at Whitney Farms on Friday. In court records on the latest case, the farm denied responsibility because it didn’t own the property at the time of Fox’s accident.

Cameron Fox, the victim’s brother, told the newspaper his brother has virtually no sensation in his right foot and very little sensation in his legs following the March accident.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has been overseeing a cleanup of the property.

Meanwhile, the Ecology Department has formally asked the farm to disclose other potential waste sites.