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Widow sues over death of airport worker

The widow of a Toledo Express Airport employee killed last year when a pressurized tire he was attempting to repair exploded has filed a lawsuit against the airport and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Christy Bergeon of Whitehouse filed the suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court

Her husband, Brian Bergeon, 34, was killed Feb. 23, 2004, when a tire from a passenger boarding bridge exploded and its rim struck him while he was working in an airport maintenance building.

In addition to the airport and the port authority, also named as defendants were Paul Toth, the port authority's airports director; Doug Podiak, the airport's operations manager, and Steve Arnold, director of operations for the airport.

Mrs. Bergeon also sued Sparks Commercial Tire Inc., of Findlay, and Dew Engineering and Development Ltd., of Ottawa, Ont., which built the passenger boarding bridge.

The lawsuit, which was assigned to Judge Jack Zouhary, is seeking damages in excess of $25,000 from each defendant.

The lawsuit claimed that the tire was modified or repaired so that an extension was placed on the existing valve core stem, creating two valve cores.

Mr. Bergeon began to separate the tire from the rim after another employee removed the extension valve, creating the false impression the tire was depressurized. Mr. Bergeon continued working on the tire while it was still pressurized, the complaint said. The tire, which Mr. Bergeon struck with a rubber mallet, exploded.

An investigation into the incident by the Ohio Public Employment Risk Reduction resulted in the port authority being cited in August for nine serious violations. Brian Schwartz, a port authority spokesman, said the agency could not comment about the pending lawsuit.

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