Oilfield company fighting same plaintiff in two venues

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 30, 2007, 4:40am

MARSHALL -- Headquartered in Houston, oilfield support company Stallion Oilfield Services (Stallion Heavy Hauling) is currently defending itself from Lenard Ray Hodge in two court venues, Houston and Marshall.

In defendant Stallion's recent answer to Hodge's Marshall lawsuit, Stallion argues defense through res judicata (an adjudicated matter) and issue preclusion.

Hodge filed the original suit in Panola County Court against his employer Pioneer Drilling and defendant Stallion Oilfield Services. In the plaintiff's county court first amended petition, Hodge alleges Stallion's negligence caused an accident occurring at Barksdale Air force Base in Bossier City, La., which resulted in Hodge's injuries.

Other court records assert that at an oil rig site Hodge was struck by a Hydromatic that was being moved by Stallion. Hodge injured his neck, back and feet.

Following the incident, Hodge's employment with Pioneer was terminated, which he claims was because he filed a worker's compensation claim in Louisiana. His termination led to Hodge charging his former employer with Discriminatory Discharge. Hodge and Pioneer Drilling reached a settlement on the charge.

Stallion Oilfield Services was granted a severance from the Panola County litigation and Hodge's case against Stallion Drilling was transferred to the District Court of Harris County.

While the paperwork from Panola County for the transfer was still being processed, Hodge filed a federal suit in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

In the meantime, Stallion had the Harris County suit, the suit that had originated in Panola County, moved to federal court as well. This case went to the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.
Both parties agree federal jurisdiction is appropriate because the incident occurred on government property at Barksdale Air force Base.

In the case pending in Marshall, Stallion filed a Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue on Aug. 7. The motion was "denied without prejudice to refiling after the plaintiff has filed his amended complaint."

Hodge did file an amended complaint, declaring that the Marshall Court venue was proper because the "contract for services and the negligent planning" occurred in Kilgore in the Eastern District of Texas.

Stallion filed an original answer on Aug. 20. In addition to denying plaintiff's allegations, Stallion states that any unlikely damages awarded should be offset by Hodge's previous settlement with his employer.

The defendant then sought reconsideration of its motion to dismiss and filed a third party suit against Hodge's employer Pioneer Drilling. On Aug. 24, U.S. District Judge T. John Ward referred the case to Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham for pretrial. Plaintiff has demanded a trial by jury on all issues.

In the Houston Division case in the Southern District, Stallion is defending plaintiff's efforts to remand, filed on July 20. Although a joint discovery/case management plan was entered on Aug. 24, Judge Gray Miller canceled a scheduling conference and entered a scheduling order setting among other things, amended pleadings due by Jan. 2, 2008, and docket call for Sept. 25, 2008.

Plaintiff is seeking damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost earnings, earning capacity, disfigurement, physical impairment, medical expenses and loss of value of household services.

Plaintiff Lenard Ray Hodge is represented in all cases by Bruce Craig of the Carlile Law firm from Marshall.

Marshall Case No.: 2:07cv00274. Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham presiding.
Houston Case No.: 4:07cv002255. Judge Gray Miller presiding.

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