LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) – The Arkansas Court of Appeals has reversed a decision by the Pope County Circuit Court that granted a man allegedly injured in a nuclear plant accident to receive root-cause evaluations as part of written discovery.

"Because we find that (Entergy Arkansas Inc.) failed to meet its burden of proving that it created the root-cause evaluations in a form that was different from those it creates in the ordinary course of business, we hold that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered Entergy to produce those documents to (Bigge Crane and Rigging Co.). The circuit court’s order, therefore, is affirmed as it pertains to Entergy’s production of the root-cause evaluations to Bigge," the April 18 opinion says.

"We further hold, however, that the circuit court abused its discretion when it ordered Entergy to produce the root-cause evaluations to Francis, who did not propound discovery seeking those documents. Accordingly, the circuit court’s order is reversed to the extent that it orders Entergy to produce the root-cause evaluations to Francis."

The plaintiff in the case, Ronnie Francis, was allegedly injured while trying to help another worker trapped by a fallen crane that was being used to move a generator stator at Entergy’s Arkansas Nuclear One plant in 2013. The stator weighed more than 500 tons and fell approximately 30 feet, according to the April 18 court decision.

Workers were trying to move the stator from a decommissioned main turbine generator with a temporary crane when the crane allegedly failed, and the stator as well as pieces of the crane fell and injured several workers and killed one, the court stated.

Francis filed a suit against Entergy citing several counts of negligence. He also filed suit against the main contractor of the project, Siemens Energy Inc., and the subcontractor responsible for the supplying the temporary crane - Bigge Crane and Rigging Co.

In the initial case, the circuit court ordered Entergy to supply the root-cause evaluation documents to Francis as well as Bigge, denying Entergy’s request for a protective order. 

The decision was made by Judge Ray Abramson and affirmed by judges Phillip Whiteaker and Kenneth S. Hixson.

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