Multi-million dollar recovery - This case involved a violent explosion which occurred at a Marcellus Shale gas well owned and operated by Chevron. The explosion led to the death of a 28-year-old gas services technician employed by an outside contractor. This was one of the first deaths that occurred in western Pennsylvania arising out of the recent surge in gas and oil drilling via the hydrofracking method. While hydrofracking for gas and oil has produced many new jobs in our region, it is very dangerous work that can produce serious personal injuries and death, particularly when companies do not follow proper safety procedures. In this case, we argued that Chevron was not properly supervising activity at the wellhead and, as a result, some workmen were "tinkering" with the seal on the well in an improper way which led to a large leak of gas. Also, Chevron had left the well sit for nearly a year with tremendous pressure and inadequate equipment and safety devices to reduce the likelihood of a leak.
This case involved a great deal of "detective" work to figure out exactly how the leak had occurred. As in many cases involving gas leaks or figure and explosion, we relied on expert witnesses to sort out what had happened.
The worker who died in this accident was not married, but he had a young infant son. Therefore, our primary claim in the case was for all of the loss of economic support, as well as the loss of guidance and upbringing, that this young child would experience as a consequence of his father's death. The proceeds from the lawsuit were placed into a Trust that would be available to take care of the child's maintenance and support for the rest of his life. The money, of course, is no substitute for the child's father, but it at least provides him with the means for his mother to provide a safe and secure environment for the child's upbringing.