Spouse of Woman Who Perished in Explosion at Kesmarc Equine Rehabilitation Facility Files Suit

OCALA.COM — NOV. 5, 2012 — The spouse of the woman who died in a hyperbaric chamber explosion in northwest Marion County earlier this year has filed suit claiming several associated parties were negligent in maintaining the chamber.

On Feb. 10, Erica Marshall, 28, and a horse, died after Marshall attempted to treat the animal using the hyperbaric chamber at the Kesmarc Equine Rehabilitation facility at 15530 W. County Road 326.

During treatment, the horse became “agitated and began kicking,” which dislodged a protective cover that exposed metal inside the chamber, according to the lawsuit.

The horse continued to kick and his steel horseshoes came in contact with the metal inside the chamber. That friction caused sparks that ultimately resulted in the explosion that killed Marshall and the horse, according to the suit.

Sorcha Moneley, 33, an observer visiting from Ireland, was wounded during the incident.

After a week-long investigation, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office ruled the incident an accident.

In a suit filed in July, the spouse, Kieran Marshall, is suing all parties involved with maintaining the hyperbaric chamber.

In the weeks leading up to the accident, officials at Kesmarc discovered the hyperbaric chamber was not working properly. They relayed their concerns to Equine Oxygen Therapy Resources, Inc., who were supposed to repair the chamber before the accident, the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit alleges Kesmarc continued to operate the chamber even though the repairs were not performed.

The lawsuit also alleges that Equine Oxygen Therapy Acquisitions, LP, and Equine Oxygen Therapy Resources, Inc., the two companies jointly responsible for the ideas behind the use of hyperbaric chambers in equine facilities, did not “adopt a design process or manufacturing process for its equine hyperbaric chambers,” which were not “in accordance with established industry standards” for similar chambers.

Equine hyperbaric chambers are large pressure vessels where the operator stands at a console outside the chamber to fill the chamber with enriched oxygen under pressure. The treatment is used for various equine conditions, according to the lawsuit.

The suit claims the manufacturers of the chamber “failed to perform testing adequate to determine the circumstances under which its equine hyperbaric chambers and the subject chamber were likely to catch fire and explode” while being used.

Because of its design and other oversights, the suit alleges the chamber was “unfit and unsafe for its intended use and purpose because of design, manufacturing, and inspection defects that caused the subject chamber to catch fire and explode.”

Marshall also is suing Kesmarc and Farnsworth Farms, Inc., the site where the equine facility is located, for negligence in not properly maintaining the site or the chamber. He is seeking wrongful death damages that include funeral expenses, the loss of his deceased wife’s net income and for mental pain and suffering.

In a response to the lawsuit filed in Marion County circuit court in September, Kesmarc claimed they had no obligations concerning the maintenance of the hyperbaric chamber. They also claimed they did not know of the alleged defect in the chamber and had no obligation to warn of the defect.

“Defendant, KESMARC EQUINE REHABILITATION LLC., alleges that Plaintiff (Kieran Marshall on behalf of the deceased Erica Marshall) was the sole legal cause of the injuries alleged in the Amended Complaint and is, therefore, barred from recovery as a matter of law,” the response stated.

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