Oil company blamed for inury from flying fence debris

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 17, 2009, 6:28am

MARSHALL – While helping to harvest hay, Timothy Clay was injured when a tractor ran over part of an old fence, throwing a T-post towards him. The airborne post hit Clay causing severe injuries.

Clay alleges the company responsible for clearing a recently created easement on the property is responsible for his injuries because it failed to remove old fence debris.

Clay filed a personal injury lawsuit against Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Smith Gas Field Services LLC, doing business as Smith Equipment Rental and Services, on March 13 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Helping his son to harvest the hay, Clay's father reversed the tractor while the plaintiff was on foot. According to the complaint, one of the mower blades hit a T-post hidden on the ground. The T-post became airborne hitting the plaintiff on his neck, back and shoulder area.

The hay field was not owned by the plaintiff, but the suit states he had permission to cut and remove the hay and had done so more than 20 times prior to the incident.

According to the complaint, the owner of the land executed a mineral lease with Anadarko Petroleum which allowed the company to create an easement to construct and maintain an oil pipeline.

During construction of the pipeline, defendant Anadarko tore down the fence adjacent to the hay field. The company hired Smith Equipment Rental and Services to remove the old fence debris and to build a new fence.

The plaintiff argues defendant Smith Equipment Rental failed to completely remove all the fence debris, including T-posts and other fence materials.

The lawsuit argues Anadarko Petroleum is negligent for failing to maintain its easement, failing to properly dispose of fence debris, failing to inspect the work of Smith Equipment, failing to warn of a potential hazard and failing to act as a reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

Further, the plaintiff states Anadarko is liable under the theory of premises liability. Clay states the mineral lease gave the defendant a right to control the premises and by not removing the fence debris, the defendant created an unreasonable risk of harm.

Clay states the defendant failed to inspect the premises after tearing down the fence, failing to adequately warn of the fence debris and failing to make the dangerous condition safe.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges Clay's injuries are a result of the negligence of defendant Smith Equipment Rental. The plaintiff states the defendant failed to completely remove the fence debris, failing to warn of the potential hazard, and failing to act as a reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

Clay is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for physical pain and suffering, mental pain, suffering, and anguish, physical impairment, medical expenses, property damages, lost earnings, and loss of earning capacity.

Seeking punitive damages, the plaintiff states the "defendants had actual awareness of the extreme degree of risk caused by failing to remove the fence debris, but proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, and welfare of others, namely Plaintiff."

The plaintiff is represented by Longview attorneys Douglas C. Monsour and D. Douglas Grubbs of The Monsour Law Firm.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No: 2:2009cv00075

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