Oilfield worker sues for $2 million after breaking leg

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau May 2, 2011, 10:17am

An old oilfield worker has filed a $2 million lawsuit against his employer, claiming he is now disabled after breaking his leg on the job.

Robert DeWitt filed suit against STIS Inc. and Southeast Texas Industries Inc. on April 19 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division. His wife, Nancy DeWitt, is also a plaintiff in the suit.

The suit states that on June 26, 2009, DeWitt was working for Helmerich and Payne International Drilling Co. as the driller on H&P Rig 383 in east Texas.

The plaintiff and his co-workers were setting up the rig for a new location and were in the process of connecting pipes. During the process, a part of the rig referred to as the shaker slide began to swing from a chain.

DeWitt attempted to get out of the way of the slide and stepped down about 3 feet to the ground, severely breaking both bones in his lower right leg, the lawsuit claims.

The plaintiffs accuse the defendants of failing to manufacture the rig with a locking device to prevent the shaker slide from becoming dislodged. The defendants are also accused of negligent construction, inspection, delivery and supervision of the manufacture of the rig.

According to the lawsuit, DeWitt was 37 years old at the time of the accident and has been placed under a "no heavy work" restriction by his physicians.

"He certainly cannot return to working in the oilfield," the lawsuit states.

DeWitt is asking for more than $1.5 million in damages and his wife is asking for $500,000 in damages, plus interest and court costs.

DeWitt is represented by Beaumont attorney Steven C. Barkley.

A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:11-cv-00186

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