$21 Million Judgment in Pipeline Explosion Being Appealed

A man working at a Texas oil storage facility was killed and several of his co-workers were seriously injured when a pipeline on which they were working exploded because the storage company that owned the pipeline had not cleared the line of dangerous hydrocarbons before allowing welding work to begin. The storage facility hired a contractor to work on a 24-inch pipe that was used to transport crude oil. Before work could begin, the storage company signed off on a “hot work permit” that certified that the pipe was safe for welding work, that it had been blocked off and disconnected from the storage facility, and that residual hydrocarbons in the pipe had been bled off. However, the line contained residual hydrocarbons and exploded when welding work started, killing one worker and injuring several others.

A Texas jury awarded $21 million for the death and injuries in an 11-1 verdict in favor of the workers. The storage company appealed the jury verdict, claiming that it had no actual knowledge that the pipeline contained residual hydrocarbons. The plaintiffs argued that if the storage company was unaware of the presence of hydrocarbons, it was because the company had failed to use safe and proper sniffing equipment to detect the hydrocarbons. The Texas Supreme Court has now been asked to review the case.

Robert P. Schuster, P.C. has investigated explosions, fires, and other work place tragedies---and successfully held companies accountable---for decades. We have achieved unparalleled success in Wyoming, North Dakota, New Mexico, Illinois, and elsewhere by relying on basic, fundamental principles. Caring for and believing in our clients. Thorough investigation and preparation. Creative and strategic focus. Unrelenting hard work. If you or a family member has been injured in a serious oil and gas explosion or other workplace tragedy, the lawyers and staff at Robert P. Schuster, P.C., will be happy to answer your questions and assist you in any way we can. Please call us at 1.307.732.7800---or email Bob Schuster directly at bob@bobschuster.com.