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Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. Wins $67,470,000 Oilfield Crash Verdict*

Posted By Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. | 3-Sep-2015

The Tom Rhodes Law Firm trial team of Tom Rhodes, Bob Brzezinski, and Erin Oglesby, with the assistance of Sam Royston, just obtained a verdict of $67,470,000 for a young man injured by an oilfield service company truck. Our client, a 19-year-old, was riding as a passenger in a small truck driven by a friend. The friend attempted a u-turn from the right shoulder on a 70 mph, two-lane county road. A van approaching them from behind swerved but still hit their vehicle mid-u-turn, front fender to front fender. The hit spun our client’s vehicle 270 degrees and left it sitting in the middle of the lane, perpendicular to traffic. An oilfield service truck following behind the van hit the passenger door where our client was seated. The oilfield truck’s speed at the time of impact was 50 mph.

Our client was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash. He was rendered a paraplegic due to a burst fracture of the spine. In his deposition, his friend accepted full responsibility for the crash, agreeing when the lawyer for the oilfield service company asked him if he was the "sole cause" of the collision. We filed suit against the oilfield service company and its driver, who admitted in his deposition that he was following the van "2 to 3 car lengths" behind, traveling at 68 mph. The company produced documents indicating that it trained its drivers to use the "3 second rule" when following other cars, but the driver admitted he didn't know how to actually calculate the 3 seconds. The company’s safety director likewise admitted that he didn’t even know what the 3 Second Rule was.

The oilfield service company named the driver of our client’s vehicle as a "responsible third party", meaning that the jury was allowed to consider his fault and his admission of being the “sole cause” of the collision. The oilfield service company refused to offer any money to try and settle the case in the two years before the case went to trial. They offered $150,000 in settlement when trial started. The value of the plaintiff’s life care plan alone was $5,500,000.

After an 8-day trial the jury awarded our client $34,240,000 in actual damages, $250,000 in punitive damages against the oilfield service company driver, and $33,000,000 in punitive damages against the oilfield service company. The jury assessed 62% of the fault against the oilfield service company and its driver, 30% of the fault on the driver of our client’s car, and 8% on our client. The 6-person jury was unanimous in its findings.

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