The children of a factory worker fatally injured at one of the company’s plants will be compensated $2.2 million, which was an amount consistent with the maximum damages recoverable under Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code limitations on punitive damages. In addition to the lump sum settlement, the worker’s children will also continue to receive full, uninterrupted workers’ compensation benefits.
Because the worker’s employer had workers’ compensation, the only permissible basis for a recovery against the employer was a gross negligence, punitive damages case. The lawsuit alleged that the deadly incident occurred when the man was working on a pipe belling machine that the company was knowingly operating in an unsafe condition.
Ammons alleged that the machine was put into service without a safety guard around its belling chamber and was further modified to remove other safety features that would have prevented the fatal incident. The modifications were made without verifying the safety of the modifications, as admitted by the company’s operation manager at deposition.