Shale company ordered to pay historic $281M in wrongful death

by Mark A. J. Fassold on 12/10/2013

While development in Eagle Ford Shale continues to boom and grow exponentially, companies doing business in the area are taking increasing safety risks.  A Dimmitt County jury just awarded $281 million to the family of a man killed when he was struck by a drive-shaft that broke off a Heckmann Water Resources truck involved in activity in the Eagle Ford Shale.

The lawsuit alleged that the event happened May 29, 2012, when the drive-shaft of a Heckmann tractor-trailer broke off from the truck on FM 133 in Dimmitt County and plowed through the windshield of a pickup, killing the passenger. The lawsuit further alleged that the drive-shaft broke because Heckmann did not properly maintain its tractor-trailer.

The jury found Heckmann negligent and fined the company $100 million in punitive damages, as well as awarded damages for the victim’s children.  The $281 million award is one of the largest verdicts in Texas history. 

As growth in the Eagle Shale Ford area continues to take off, companies working in the area must remain responsible not only for the safety of their own workers, but also for the safety of area residents. 

The south Texas shale boasted 67 operating rigs in 2009 and 158 operating rigs in 2010. Today there are 265 oil rigs operating in the Eagle Ford Shale, and production is predicted to remain strong. This kind of growth does not come without risk, especially when large companies are more concerned with profits than the safety of residents.

The seasoned oil and gas injury lawyers at Watts Guerra have successfully taken on some of the largest energy companies, and achieved record-setting legal results. We understand and value our local south Texas communities and workers, and have our own significant ties to the legal and business communities of the area.

Tags: Personal Injury, Eagle Ford Shale

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