The first group of plaintiffs to go to trial following the deadly Williams Olefins plant explosion in Geismar, Louisiana in 2013 were just awarded $13.6 million by an Iberville Parish jury.
Defendants Cannot Take Advantage of Workers’ Compensation Immunity in Williams Explosion Case
Williams had previously argued that the injured workers could not bring their claims because of the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation laws. Under Louisiana law, an injured industrial worker cannot sue his employer, statutory employer, or borrowing employer for negligence. This is an absolute bar to any recovery.
But, there is an exception to this rule if the company’s actions are deemed to be “intentional.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that they wanted the accident to happen, as intent can be shown by knowledge that the accident was “substantially certain” to occur. This was the argument that the plaintiffs successfully made to get to the case to go trial, rather than being decided on a pre-trial motion.
When the case went to trial, the plaintiffs had to show that Williams knew with substantial certainty that a fire could occur. The defense lawyers, on the other hand, argued that while Williams had admitted that it made a mistake, it did not intentionally harm anyone.
The jury ultimately sided with the plaintiffs and split liability amongst Williams Olefins, a plant official, the plant supervisor, and primarily with Williams Olefin’s parent company.
The total award of $13,6 million was divided amongst four different plaintiffs, with one receiving $9.4 million, another receiving $3.6 million, another receiving $360,000, and the last receiving $205,000.
Not surprising given the amount of the jury’s award, Williams has said that it will be appealing the judgment.
Hurt in an Industrial Accident?
If you have suffered an injury in a plant, refinery, or other industrial accident, The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call (504) 564-7342 for a free and confidential case evaluation with an injury attorney.