Forgetful employee causes huge fuel spill, environmental damage at towing company, suit says

in Local Courts by

A fueling company employee on his cellphone while filling a fuel tank is being blamed for creating an oil spill on the property of a local towing company.

In a complaint, filed Oct. 28, Stepp’s Transportation Services, headquartered at 9602 E. Hwy 92 in Tampa, is suing Georgia-based Mansfield Systems for negligence.

In July, Stepp’s 10,000-gallon tank ran out of fuel.

Flector, a fueling company, was to provide fuel to Stepp’s and replenish the tank, ensuring it never runs out of fuel. Flector uses Mansfield Systems as a vendor for Stepp’s.

Mansfield was responsible for providing emergency fueling; however, it couldn’t provide the necessary fuel. The company then subcontracted a third party to complete the process.

The emergency fuel drop was completed that day. Nevertheless, Mansfield dispatched one of its own fuel tanks the next day to fill up Stepp’s tank, forgetting it already sent a subcontractor to do the job.

When the Mansfield employee — a driver unnamed in the suit — arrived at Stepp’s he went directly to the fuel tank to begin fueling. Standard procedure includes checking in at the office and inspecting the tank to determine how much fuel is needed before beginning to fuel.

After inserting the hose, the employee returned to the cab of his truck. The suit claims the employee “was seen operating a personal electronic device” as the fueling continued.

Due to the inattentive employee, fuel began overflowing and pouring out of the vents and inlet of the tank. What is described in the suit as “a large quantity of fuel” spilled onto the property. Court papers did not indicate exactly how much fuel spilled.

Had the employee followed procedures and been aware of the fuel drop the previous day, this incident would have been avoided.

Stepp’s incurred damage to its property and costs to clean up the mess; the company seeks repayment.