Alabama Daikin contractor’s widower speaks out for the first time since her death

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. – A heartsick Bobby Humphrey broke his silence for the first time since his wife, Darby Dockery’s, death in September.

The couple sat down with News 19 just a month before she died, expressing serious concerns, and allegations against Decatur’s Daikin America plant. Dockery said she had been exposed to hazardous chemicals while working as a contractor at the plant in October 2019.

Following that exposure, Dockery spent months in UAB’s ICU. She would later depend on an oxygen tank and concentrator to keep her alive.

But having severe lung damage and living through a pandemic driven by a respiratory illness soon took its toll.

Dockery’s death certificate lists respiratory distress syndrome due to COVID-19 as her cause of death. Something her husband believes she could’ve beat had it not been for the Daikin exposure.

“The cause of death they said was COVID pneumonia but COVID pneumonia wouldn’t have killed her,” he said. “Her age was in her favor and her health, well would’ve been her health.”

Humphrey tells News 19 his wife’s spirit has given him the strength to move forward in her honor, but it hasn’t been an easy process.

“I’m angry, I kind of wish they’d shut that place down,” he said. “People are just dying and they don’t care. They don’t care for the families.”

Humphrey, once labeled caregiver for his wife stood on a Lawrence County road alone, now a single father of three.

“It’s weird, it’s hard to look at pictures of her because it messes us up.”

Humphrey says his wife died spiting Daikin.

“You go from good health to bad health you’re going to be mad,” he said. “Then for the companies to not care or try to help or nothing, hide it really. She was hot. She was mad.”

Now he’s left to continue raising their three daughters. Three girls who won’t see their mom at Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.

“It’s gonna get harder closer to Christmas…I miss her.”

Humphrey ultimately places blame on Daikin for his 37-year-old wife’s untimely death. A claim he hopes to prove in court.

“They ruined our lives, they ruined my kids’ lives, my life, her family’s life,” he said. “They need to step up to the plate and do what’s right by these families, everybody.”

He says the company hasn’t reached out to him since Dockery’s chemical exposure in 2019. Even after filing suit against the company in 2020.

News 19 reached out to Daikin for comment Tuesday. The company told us it does not comment on pending litigation.

Humphrey said the lawsuit filed on his wife’s behalf will be amended with a wrongful death claim.

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