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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Court rules against rig worker whose leg was amputated after work accident

State Court

By Charmaine Little | Aug 26, 2019


U.S. Justice Russell Lloyd

HOUSTON -- Oil rig worker Refugio Sanchez lost his appeal Aug. 20 in the Texas First Court of Appeals after he sued a drilling company for negligence following a jobsite injury.

Justice Peter Kelly wrote the opinion. Justices Russell Lloyd and Richard Hightower concurred.

The appeals court affirmed the ruling for independent contractor Precision Drilling Company, first decided by the Harris County District Court. 

According to the complaint, Sanchez worked for Precision when it entered an agreement with COG Operating LLC. In April 2013, Sanchez and a number of his colleagues worked on Precision’s transport rig. The suit alleges he, along two others, were asked to load a portable generator to a pole truck and relocate it. Sanchez said had to use rope and chains to hold down the truck. 

At one point, the suit states, the generator swerved to the drivers’ side and a colleague lost control. Sanchez said he used his hands and followed the generator to the back of the truck but the truck ended up running over his foot. 

The complaint stats Sanchez ultimately had to get his leg amputated and suffered other injuries. He sued Precision, alleging negligence, stating that it did not uphold its responsibility to keep a safe work environment. Precision filed a motion for traditional and no-evidence summary judgment, and the lower court dismissed the case.

Unfortunately for Sanchez, the appeals court disagreed with his appeal, ruling it ultimately had to determine if Precision’s supposed negligence caused Sanchez’s injury. 

Sanchez alleged the company’s rig manager distracted another worker on the rig and stopped him from noticing that Sanchez was having issues with the truck. Sanchez’s expert witness and Holdings’ serious incident investigation report both noted that the coworker was distracted. 

Witness Douglas W. Smith stated that the colleague “was distracted by communicating with [Precision’s right manager], on where to place the load while flagging the pole truck operator,” according to the lawsuit. But both reports failed to mention that the distraction played a major part in Sanchez’s actual injury.

The appeals court ruled that Sanchez failed to prove that Precision actually caused the injuries, and the court affirmed the dismissal.

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