14th District reverses take nothing judgment in injured worker's case against W&T Offshore

By Gabriel Neves | Nov 13, 2018

HOUSTON – An oil industry worker who was injured on an offshore platform and got a take-nothing judgment had the decision reversed in court.

Fourteenth District Court of Appeals Justice William Boyce issued a 47-page ruling on Oct. 30, reversing the Harris County 269th District Court decision in the lawsuit filed by Wesley Fredieu against W&T Offshore Inc.

In the ruling, Boyce reversed the take-nothing judgment the trial court and decided to send the case back to the lower court for judging in favor of Fredieu since the jury's answer to the borrowed employee question could not be ignored.

The new ruling substituted a previous document issued on June 26. The jury on the case found W&T negligent in causing Fredieu's injuries and awarded damages totaling more than $1.7 million. Nevertheless, the trial court signed a take-nothing judgment after the jury answered 'no' to if Fredieu was a borrowed employee and the court disregarded the answer, invalidating the injury award. Fredieu appealed this ruling.

Fredieu sued W&T for injuries he allegedly sustained while performing a safety inspection at a fixed platform in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011.

After performing repairs, per the ruling, Fredieu "performed a 'walk around' safety inspection on Platform D and noticed a malfunction in a piece of equipment called a 'regulator.'”

While disconnecting the regulator, the ruling states a nearby pipe separated and struck Fredieu, causing "fractures in both bones of his left forearm and necessitated surgery to repair multiple fractures with two metal plates and 13 screws."

Fredieu filed the suit in February 2013 invoking general maritime law and asserting a negligence claim against W&T in relation with his injury at work.

Chief Justice Kem Thompson Frost presented a dissenting opinion in which she contested the jury's calculation of Fredieu's damages for future lost earning capacity.

"No evidence shows that Fredieu lacks capacity to get and hold a job, and no evidence shows impairment of Fredieu’s capacity to continue in his current job," Frost said.

14th District Court of Appeals case number 14-16-00511-CV

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