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Family of Texas oilfield worker killed in explosion awarded $29 million damages

05 February 2015

The family of an oilfield services worker killed on the job by an explosion of an industrial battery was awarded $29 million by a Houston jury. The 38-year old worker died after a lithium thionyl chloride battery exploded at a Professional Directional Enterprises, Inc. facility in Conroe, Texas in January 2011. 

Stock image
Stock image

His family alleged that the battery was improperly heated to extend its life for use in an oilfield downhole-drilling tool and was known to be defective.

The lawsuit claims included gross negligence and allegations of missing evidence from the explosion. A separate federal investigation led to multiple "serious" and other citations against PDE for violating federal safety regulations.

After a day of deliberations, the Harris County state court jury awarded $4 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages on February 3.

Representing the family of the deceased, Tony Buzbee of the Buzbee Law Firm said: "This verdict should send a message to smaller oil and gas operators that the practice of reheating oilfield tool batteries must stop. This death … was absolutely preventable."

Professional Directional Enterprises, Inc., with offices in Wyoming, Virginia, Louisiana, and Texas, was found 80% liable and another defendant that settled before closing arguments in the trial was found 20% liable.

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