Record 82.5 Million Dollar Verdict May Show Juries Want to Punish Energy Companies

Tuesday’s record-setting 82.5 million dollar verdict in Harris country for the death of a single man killed by a Cleburne natural gas explosion could be the beginning of a trend-juries doing what federal regulators can’t do.  Hitting big business where it hurts when they don’t prioritize worker and environmental safety over profits.

“In the wake of two recent Texas natural gas line explosions and the spill in the Gulf, I believe people are sick and tired of the mess,” says Houston explosion attorney Rob Ammons.   “When companies prioritize profits over responsibility, safety and respect for the environment, I think juries are going to push back in the only way they can- by awarding precedent-setting verdicts for hard-working claimants.”

Joshua Wade Petrie, 27, was attempting to start a hot oil heater on May 25, 2007, when the heater exploded. A day later the man died, leaving behind a widow, Candee Petrie, and three minor children. Mr. Petrie’s father, Mark Petrie, was also a claimant.

Petrie’s attorneys Rob Ammons and Bennett Midlo of the Houston-based Ammons Law Firm argued in court the natural gas processing plant and its equipment were negligently refurbished, as Hanover had agreed to do.

“Hanover Compression sold the gas processing plant in Hood County to Quicksilver Resources in March of 2005,” says Ammons. ” Hanover was supposed to fully refurbish the plant and the hot oil heater. Hanover failed to refurbish and upgrade the heater to the applicable current industry standards and that is what caused the explosion.”

The trial in Judge Robert Schaffer’s Harris County Judicial District Court #152 encompassed the three-year anniversary of Petrie’s death.