$15.4 Million Jury Verdict Won for Severely Injured Workers
We are proud to announce that we secured a massive verdict for 4 workers who were injured in the Williams Geismar plant explosion.
Attorneys Kurt Arnold, Kyle Findley, and Kala Sellers secured a $15.4 million
verdict for our clients, who were caught in the 2013 explosion at the
Williams Olefins plant in Geismar. During a $400 million expansion of
the plant, higher-ups at the corporation—including the CEO—decided
to continue operations during the expansion. Other officials affirmed
that this would be dangerous for the workers and recommended shutting
down the plant, but the CEO and the board of directors insisted on continuing
operations and overruled the recommendation.
On June 13th, 2013, the factory reboilers over-pressurized while workers
were handling the expansion project. The resulting explosion could be
seen for miles, and our clients were forced to run for their lives. The
incident left them with physical and psychological injuries that demanded
compensation, but the company responsible wanted to blame the incident
on a shell company—which would have limited their liability for
the explosion. Thanks to our attorneys’ vast understanding of plant
operations, they were able to sift through hundreds of thousands of pages
of documents to find that a reboiler relief valve was not opened, causing
We found that numerous safety warnings were issued regarding the lack of
a functioning valve, but nothing was done to repair the isolated reboiler.
Our investigation found evidence that the Defendants possessed “substantial
certainty” that the reboiler would explode—one of the few
exceptions to the recovery limits set by workers’ compensation.
Arnold & Itkin attorneys also discovered that Williams Companies,
Inc., based in Tulsa, maintained control over the plant managers and employees.
During litigation, the Defendants cited the statutory employer defense
and tried to shift the blame to Williams Olefins LLC—the subsidiary
holding the plant. After 3 weeks of trial, the jury saw through the company’s
“shell game defense” and provided an award in favor of our clients.
95% of the responsibility was assigned to Williams Companies, Inc., with
3% assigned to Williams Olefins LLC. The jury found that both companies
knew there was a risk of explosion with the reboilers and that the plant
managers were actually employees of Williams Companies, Inc. and not Williams
Olefins—which was key to overcoming their defense strategy.
Our clients were awarded by the jury in the following amounts: Shawn Thomas
received $9.4 million, Christopher Devall received $3.6 million, Eduardo
Elizondo $360,000, and Michael Danton $205,000. The original award was
$13,679,933.53 with $1,778,409.79 awarded in pre-judgment interest, so
the total award was $15,458,432.32 for our clients. Our firm was honored
to help these men get the recovery they needed and truly deserved, alongside
Clayton, Fruge, and Ward. Our firm will continue to work on this case
in a series of upcoming trials involving nearly 100 workers represented
by Arnold & Itkin. The case was filed in Iberville Parish, Louisiana,
with the Honorable Elizabeth Engolio presiding.