Injured Oil Workers Lawsuit Helps Them Recover From From On-the-Job Injuries

oil_well_head_surrounding-686x1024The rugged world of oil well labor often serves as a crucible of challenges, where hard work meets unforeseen perils. Within this demanding landscape, a legal saga unfolds, revealing the harrowing tale of two injured workers and the intricate journey through a labyrinthine appeals process. Their journey from the fiery depths of an explosion to the halls of justice sheds light on the complexities that can arise even after a jury’s verdict, providing a stark reminder of the importance of legal expertise in navigating this tumultuous terrain.

AIX Energy Inc. owned and operated an oil well in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. It performed a frac job and hired Republic Well Testing as a contractor to measure the oil well’s flowback. Republic installed a flowback tank. AIX decided to try to set a “packer” to produce through smaller tubing. AIX hired Jeremy Shepard and Michael Jackson as toolpushers and floor hands. While attempting to set the “packer,” the crew ran into issues. In the course of the work, there was an explosion. Jackson and Shepard were standing near the well. They were knocked over and seriously burned. 

Jackson, Shepard, and their respective wives filed a personal injury lawsuit against AIX, Republic, and others. At trial, the jury found AIX and various other defendants were negligent. The jury allocated AIX 97.5% of the fault. The jury awarded Shepard and Jackson $22.45 million in damages. AIX appealed.

On appeal, AIX raised numerous assignments of error. First, AIX claimed the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury about proximate cause properly. The appellate court reviewed the instructions and verdict form, which asked about the negligence and causation of each defendant. Therefore, the appellate court found the trial court did not err concerning the jury instructions on proximate cause. 

AIX also claimed the jury erred in allocating 97.5% of the fault. The appellate court pointed to the conflicting testimony between Shepard and Jackson’s expert and AIX’s expert about how the accident occurred. The appellate court found both experts’ testimony seemed reasonable. Therefore, the jury’s allocation of fault, with 97.5% to AIX, did not seem to be manifestly wrong. 

AIX also argued the jury erred in the amount of damages it awarded Jackson and Shepard. Someone like Shepard or Jackson, who is injured through the fault of another, is entitled to full coverage of the resulting damages. See La. C.C. art. 2315. The appellate court pointed to testimony from Shepard and Jackson during the trial, which indicated the immense pain and arduous recovery from their severe burns. The appellate court found the evidence supported the jury’s damages award for general damages and future medical expenses. 

However, the appellate court found the award for Jackson’s and Shepard’s future lost earnings was not supported by the evidence. The plaintiff has the burden of proving a claim for lost earnings. See Davis v. Foremost Dairies. Neither Jackson nor Shepard provided sufficient evidence to support the jury’s award for future lost earnings reasonably. Therefore, the appellate court reduced the awards for future lost earnings to the high possible award within the jury’s discretion. 

The chronicle of Jeremy Shepard and Michael Jackson, scalded by the flames of an oil well explosion, transcends the physical realm to embody the legal odyssey that follows such tragic events. As the appellate court’s scrutiny peels back the layers of argument and evidence, it unveils the delicate balance that justice requires. In the end, the verdict, the damages, and the allocations stand as a testament to the interplay of law and circumstance. Yet, amidst the twists and turns, a beacon of guidance emerges – the role of a skilled lawyer in shepherding plaintiffs through the stormy seas of trial and appeal. So, whether your path leads you to a courtroom or beyond, remember that a legal advocate can be your compass, helping you steer through the storm of legal complexities and emerge with clarity and justice on your side.

Additional Sources: Jeremy Shepard and Emily Shepard and Michael Jackson and Tamisia Jackson v. AIX Energy Inc., et al.

Article Written By Berniard Law Firm

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