Hicks Thomas trial attorneys successfully curtailed a multimillion-dollar demand asserted by a worker injured in a 2018 crane and rigging accident.
The trial in Harris County’s 80th Civil District Court ended April 30 with the jury finding the plaintiff 50 percent responsible for his injuries, his employer 20 percent responsible, and ExxonMobil 30 percent responsible.
Plaintiff Jeremy Souders sued ExxonMobil in August 2018, after he sustained a crush injury to his left pelvis during crane and rigging operations at the Baytown refinery. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Souders was working with a crew of JV Industrial Corporation employees lifting heat exchanger bundles. The accident occurred when one bundle swung upon being lifted and pinned Mr. Souders to a nearby stationary bundle. Even though no ExxonMobil employees were present, he accused ExxonMobil of gross negligence and negligence for failing to supervise its workers, properly maintain its equipment and train its employees.
Hicks Thomas' trial lawyers Jay Old and Liz Larson presented testimony from a member of the crew, who told jurors that Mr. Souders had not been assigned to that crew on the night of the accident and should not have been in that area of the refinery. Other evidence established that Mr. Souders had undergone an outpatient surgery the morning of the accident under general anesthesia and had received instructions from his doctor to avoid operating heavy machinery or making decisions for 24 hours.
At the close of the trial, Mr. Souders’ attorneys sought over $10 million in damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and punitive damages. Ultimately, the jury awarded Mr. Souders $60,000 for past loss of earning capacity in addition to a stipulated $180,000 for past medical expenses. While ExxonMobil was responsible for paying 30 percent of that amount – a total of $72,000 – jurors rejected a gross negligence claim against the company and declined to award the majority of damages sought by Mr. Souders.
“We are very pleased with the jury’s decision,” said Mr. Old, who represented ExxonMobil. “Our evidence showed that at no time did an ExxonMobil employee ask Mr. Souders to perform the duties that led to his injuries. We are grateful to the jury for all the work and thought it put into its final decision.”
The case is Jeremy Souders vs. Exxon Mobil Corporation, No. 2018-5141 in Harris County 80th Civil District Court.
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