Case Result: Severe Burns & Hydrocarbon Flash Fire
GROSS AMOUNT: $5,345,000
FLASHFIRE OCCURRED BECAUSE NATURAL GAS COMPANY FAILED TO MAINTAIN A WATER TANK
“They’re good people. Everyone treated me like family.”
A natural gas company represented that a water tank located on its premises was exclusively utilized for pure reverse osmosis water storage. Unbeknownst to our client or to his water company employer, the natural gas company allowed the water tank to become contaminated with flammable hydrocarbons. In addition, the water tank’s gauge and float had been broken for an extended period, but the natural gas company failed to make repairs.
Because the gauge and float were broken, it was impossible for our client, while delivering water, to tell how much water was in the tank or when the tank might overflow. The natural gas company knew about the problems with the tank and that water deliverers had experienced overflows previously. The natural gas company ordered water when the tank was close to full. Shortly after, the delivery driver, our client, began pumping water into the tank. The water began overflowing causing hydrocarbons to flow out of the top of the tank and ignite after entering the water delivery truck’s water pump engine. A flash fire resulted which severely burned our client.
Our client was flown to the region’s top burn care unit because of the significant burns he sustained over most of his body. The recovery process was slow and difficult and eventually led to an amputation of one of his arms. Our client and his family suffered through months of burn unit treatment and multiple surgeries. It was an ordeal impossible to imagine.The clients were referred to our law firm by a prior law firm client who was familiar with oilfield companies’ attempts to deny responsibility and blame the victim. In spite of the crisis confronting the clients in the burn unit, they had the wherewithal to retain our law firm.
Our law firm acted immediately to retain experts and inspect the tank and its contents. Samples of the water tank’s contents were submitted for laboratory analysis which revealed high levels of hydrocarbon contamination. Lab analysis further revealed that the contamination had existed for an extended period. Nonetheless, our attorneys realized that proving the source of the contamination might go a long way towards proving the gas company’s knowledge of contamination and thus, establish grounds for punitive damages. Accordingly, our attorneys took charge of the field investigation personally, tracking down various water hauling truck companies who had delivered contaminated water to the subject location. This extraordinary effort led to the addition of various additional defendants and ultimately to increased compensation.
The Defendants fought hard, attacking our client and his employer in an effort to avoid responsibility, but in the end, they were overcome by the force of the evidence our firm collected in the early days following the tragic event. The gathering of evidence might have been impaired or proven a failure without the quick thinking of our client’s daughter who contacted our firm and put us to work immediately.
Our client was an elderly man who had been a worker his entire life. The emotional and physical support that he received from his grown children was remarkable and a thing of beauty. We were welcomed into their family and glad to be of assistance.
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Each case is unique and past results are not guarantees of future performance. Outcomes depend on the specific facts of each case.