Jury splits blame 50/50 in Valero injury trial, but still awards $225K to plaintiff

David Yates Oct. 4, 2010, 9:43am

A Jefferson County jury recently found defendant Valero Energy and plaintiff Allan Gaspard equally at fault for a work related injury, but still elected to levy a $225,688.80 verdict against the oil giant.

Gaspard, an Orange County resident, filed suit against Valero in January 2009, alleging the company negligently caused him to burn his hand with acid.

According to testimony and court records, Gaspard was performing work on a line carrying hydrofluoric acid at the Valero Port Arthur refinery when a valve malfunctioned and released the acid.

His case went to trial on Sept. 28 and ended Oct. 1.

Jurors concluded that both Valero and Gaspard were evenly responsible for the injury, assigning 50 percent of the negligence to each party.

But the jury still wanted Gaspard to be receive compensation, and awarded him $107,500 for impairment and disfigurement, $50,000 for mental anguish, $29,500 for lost wages and $13,688.80 in past medical expenses.

During the trial, Gaspard testified that an extremely painful blister formed on his hand and that he had to be transported by ambulance to the burn unit at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for care.

He said the pain was so severe that the morphine administered at the hospital had "hardly any affect" on him.

Ryan Douglas White and Eric Newell of Brent Coon & Assoc. in Beaumont represents Gaspard.

Valero is represented by Beaumont attorney Michael Eaves of the Calvert Eaves Clarke & Stelly law firm.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, presided over the trial.

Case No. A183-062

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