Crane operators sue after high-pressure gas well explosion

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 29, 2010, 4:49am

MARSHALL- After a blow out at a wellhead injured one man and killed another, the survivors have filed a suit against the well owners.

Subcontracted to help Innovate Wellsite Systems change out pins on high-pressure gas wellheads, crane truck operators James Dennis and James Siler were in the path of a violent explosion when a wellhead blew out. Silers was severely injured while Dennis suffered fatal injuries. The incident occurred Nov. 18, 2009, in DeSoto Parish, La.

Barbara Dennis, individually and as representative of the estate of James Dennis, Jill Dennis, Lauren Dennis and James Siler filed suit against Chesapeake Energy Corp. on March 19, in the Marshall division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The families of the workers claim Chesapeake Energy is liable for the men's injuries for failing to "kill the well." According to the lawsuit, Innovate employees requested that a down hole packer be used to keep the pressure of the well downhole away from the wellhead where the work was being preformed.

"Chesapeake refused to take the time to do so and wanted Innovative to continue the work with the lubricator which was set," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs also state that the defendant had previous other blow outs in the same oilfield.

On behalf of the deceased, the plaintiffs are seeking damages for conscious physical pain, mental pain and anguish, medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses.

The Dennis family is seeking damages for mental anguish, pecuniary loss and loss of companionship and society. Plaintiff James Siler is seeking damages for mental anguish, physical pain, disfigurement, physical and mental impairment, hospital and medical expenses, loss of capacity to earn a livelihood and diminished earning capacity.

Seeking punitive damages, the lawsuit alleges the defendant's actions involved an extreme degree of risk but they proceeded with a conscious indifference to the rights and welfare of the plaintiffs.

Tyler attorney Keith Miller and Longview attorney Blake C. Erskine of Erskine & McMahon L.L.P are representing the plaintiff. Jury trial demanded.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is assigned to the litigation.

Case No. 2:10cv00095

More News