Family of man killed in Watson Grinding explosion sues business

HOUSTON – The family of one of the men killed in Friday’s explosion at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing in Spring Branch is suing the business.

Frank Flores’s family claims the company knew the plant was dangerous and didn’t warn employees which caused the death of Flores and Gerardo Castorena.

Aside from the two Watson employees who died, hundreds of others have been impacted by the explosion, including residents whose homes were destroyed.

”It’s off the foundation,” said Christine Chuma, referencing her home of 10 years. “You can see the grass through one of the rooms."

Chuma is one of hundreds of people without a place to live. Her home is one of 214 homes damaged by the early morning blast in northwest Houston.

”All the windows are gone,” said Chuma. “The garage is pushed, damaged all the way in. It’s horrible. It’s not livable.“

Castorena and Flores, employees at Watson, were at the gym working out before their shifts when the blast went off, killing them both.

Now Flores’ family is suing Watson and its owners.

Watson declined to comment.

As part of the Flores’ wrongful death lawsuit, the family is asking Watson to pay for funeral expenses, legal fees and for mental anguish.

The lawsuit claims the plant:

  • Did not have a required EPA risk management plan.
  • Did not report the amount of propylene it had to state, local authorities.
  • Did not have alarms or monitors on the premises.
  • Failed to maintain propylene tanks to prevent leaks.
  • Failed to warn employees of dangerous conditions.
  • Violated OSHA and EPA regulations.

”Them guys did not deserve to lose their lives,” said Chuma. "(Watson) deserves to get whatever is coming to them.“

One homeowner is also suing, and others say they are hiring lawyers, too.

Flores’s lawyers will be in court at 2:30 p.m Monday, seeking a restraining order against the company and forcing them to preserve evidence of the explosion.