Ninth District denies stay of Nabors Drilling wrongful death trial

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 20, 2014, 2:42pm

A drilling company was hoping to get a stay on an upcoming wrongful death case against, but an appeals court has denied its request.

Nabors Drilling USA LP filed a petition for a writ of mandamus and a motion to stay a trial that is scheduled for Dec. 8 in the Jefferson County 136th District Court. 

Justices on the Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals in Beaumont denied the petition and motion for temporary relief on Nov. 20.

Justin Burnett filed a lawsuit Jan. 28, 3013, in Jefferson County District Court against T.K. Stanley, Nabors Drilling USA and Legend Oil Field Services.

Nabors moved for summary judgment in the wrongful death suit, which included affidavits from two of Nabors’ former employees. Nabors objected to the affidavits on evidentiary grounds and on the grounds that the workers’ testimony had not been adequately disclosed during the discovery process.

On Oct. 31, trial court Judge Milton Shuffield overruled Nabors’ objections to the affidavits, finding that Burnett complied with Nabors’ request for disclosure and established good cause for any late supplementation. He also denied the motion for summary judgment.

Nabors claimed Shuffield abused his discretion and asked the appeals court to order the trial court to vacate the Oct. 31 order.

“After examining the mandamus petition and record, we determine that the relator is not entitled to relief sought,” the per curiam order states. “Accordingly, we deny the petition for writ of mandamus and motion for temporary relief.”

In his original complaint, Justin Burnett alleges his father, Scottie Wayne Burnett, was working as a rigger for T.K. Stanley on March 19, 2011, near rig components being off-loaded to the drilling site. Suddenly, a section of the rig collapsed without warning and pinned Scottie Wayne Burnett beneath it, according to the complaint.

“At the time of the incident subject of this suit, Scottie Wayne Burnett was following directions being issued by defendants,” the suit states.

Because of Scottie Wayne Burnett’s death, his family lost his earning capacity, care, services, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, companionship and society. They also endured mental anguish and lost his inheritance, the complaint says.

Nabors is named as a defendant because it was the drilling company in charge of the site where the incident occurred. T.K. Stanley and Legend were subcontractors at the site where the incident occurred, the complaint says.

Justin Burnett alleges negligence against the defendants.

Trial Court Case No. D193-863

Appeals Court No. 09-14-00499-CV

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