A Texas man was injured when a heavy pipe casing fell about 15 feet from an oilfield elevator, a device that clamps around a pipe so it can be raised and lowered in an oil well. The pipe casing tore the nerve endings out of the man’s shoulder and neck. After four surgeries and $500,000 in medical expenses, the man still does not have full use of his right arm.
The worker sued M&M Elevator Company, the company that sold the elevator, alleging that it malfunctioned and caused the pipe casing to fall. The company argued that the device did not malfunction, that it was being used improperly. M&M claimed that oilfield workers had failed to latch the elevator correctly. They also questioned why the worker was under the elevator when the accident occurred. The jury, however, found that the elevator was defective at the time of the accident. It was proved at trial that the elevator didn’t work properly, causing the casing to fall on the plaintiff.
When an oilfield worker is injured on the job, usually a worker’s compensation claim against their employer would be filed. If the negligence of a third party contributed to the injury, the worker can also bring a civil lawsuit against that third party for damages. The worker sued M&M Elevator Company, the company responsible for this malfunction, and after a week-long civil trial, a jury awarded him and his family $11 million in damages arising out of the 2009 accident that caused severe damage to his right arm.
It is not a guarantee that the worker will ever receive the money damages. The company has the opportunity to bring post-trial motions to ask the judge to set aside the verdict. If that is unsuccessful, they have the right to appeal to a higher court where they may argue that the judge did not apply the law correctly, or that the jury’s verdict is unsupported by the evidence. The case shows the monetary value a jury can place on a disabling injury that happens in the oil fields.
Do you think this verdict was fair? Feel free to comment on this blog post. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).