In The News

Harris County Jury Returns $20.2 Million Verdict in Deadly Oiltanking Explosion Case

13 Nov

Posted by Christine in In The News


HOUSTON, TX, Nov. 11, 2013 – Rob Kwok, Will Hoke & Christine Weems of the law firm of Kwok Daniel Ltd LLP in Houston, Texas announced today a Harris County jury has returned a verdict in the wrongful death lawsuit arising from the deadly June 2, 2012 explosion in Channelview, Texas, filed against Oiltanking Partners (NYSE: OILT) in the 127th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas.

After a five (5) week trial, and over 3 days of deliberations, the jury (11-1) moments ago (November 11, 2013) returned a verdict for the family members of the killed welder, and other injured workers in the amount of $20,178,000.00 million in compensatory damages. According to Verdict Search, this is the highest jury award of its kind in Harris County Texas for 2013.

The Plaintiffs put on evidence of Oiltanking’s negligence and gross negligence in failing to properly make a lateral pipe free of hazardous materials prior to issuing a hot work permit for welding. Additionally, the Plaintiffs proved Oiltanking failed to properly and regularly air test for LEL prior to the explosion, which killed one welder, and severely injured several other welders/helpers. OSHA, EPA and the Harris County Fire Marshall all concurred with Plaintiffs’ expert, Mike Sawyer, who opined Oiltanking failed to properly clear the line of hazardous hydrocarbons that exceeded the plumbers plug and ignited during hot work causing the plug to explode out and kill one welder. Oiltanking Houston no longer uses plumbers plugs during welding on lateral pipes and instead uses a pressure holding plug made by Car-Ber.

Says Kwok, “The jury is the great equalizer between corporate America and working class America. Daddy’s deserve a safe work place, and they need to come home from work each and every day. Hopefully the jury’s verdict encourages Oiltanking’s 72 worldwide terminals and the petrochemical industry in general to slow down, follow safety rules, and make terminals safe for our workers.

We are truly grateful for the jury’s compassion for our clients and for the diligent work of everyone involved in bringing Oiltanking to justice for the death of Mr. Delgado and the lifetime damages to our other clients. Clearly, the jury sent a message from Houston, Texas to Hamburg, Germany (Oiltanking’s headquarters) that sloppy work and shortcuts are “not ok” in Harris County, Texas.”

Robert S. Kwok
William “Will” Hoke
Lead Trial Counsel for Plaintiffs

For Houston Chronicle article – click here.