Michelle Hunter obtains a $350,000 settlement on a disputed liability case for a Work-Related Injury
Long Beach, Calif. — Associate Attorney, Michelle Hunter of the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates settled a premises liability claim for $350,000. An operator for an oil well services company was assigned to work at a job site for his employer to conduct a pressure test and search for leaks on an oil well. After running safety checks on their own equipment, the plaintiff and their crew attached everything to the well and began conducting pre-tests. Following the last test, the plaintiff knelt down at the head of the well to check for any leaks, when suddenly a brass valve shot off and struck the plaintiff and another crew member. The impact caused the plaintiff to be thrown back and knocked unconscious.

When the plaintiff regained consciousness, they were bleeding from the head and leg. They were immediately transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital.

As a result of the impact, the plaintiff suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a laceration on his right leg, and right lumbosacral radiculopathy. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff had a history of headaches, causing him to be labeled an “eggshell plaintiff” for having a pre-existing condition that worsened due to the incident in question. 

The defendant was in a contractual agreement with the plaintiff’s employer to ensure both parties complied with the proper protocols. The defendant, as the operator of the oil rig, was responsible for running their own safety checks to confirm that all their equipment and materials were in order before the plaintiff’s crew arrived on site. The plaintiff’s team successfully completed their safety checks on their own equipment before beginning any work. Following the plaintiff’s accident, on the defendant’s own incident report, one of the factors listed as contributing to the accident included “equipment failure”. The report noted that the pipe that blew off contained a brass valve with a working pressure of 600 PSI—a significantly lower level of pressure than the standard level of 1100 PSI, which indicates the valve was old and should have been replaced. 

The defendant had a duty to maintain their premises and equipment prior to hiring the plaintiff’s crew to run tests, and they failed to do so. Their negligence left the plaintiff’s team to work on a hazardous oil well. With thorough investigation efforts, Hunter was able to discover the defendant was negligent on multiple accounts that were a direct result of the accident. Hunter found the defendant failed to warn the workers that the oil well had been out of service for some time and that the brass valve had a working pressure of only 600 PSI. Had the plaintiff’s crew known of these conditions, as reasonable oil well servicers, they would not have conducted the pressure testing they had done on an unstable valve. It was also discovered that the defendant kept the premises cluttered and filthy, which led to a build-up of tar on the brass valve that later burst.

The accident could have been prevented had the defendant run the property safety checks and kept their equipment up to code. However, the defense seemed to believe the responsibility was not entirely on them. They believed as an oil well servicer, it was the plaintiff’s responsibility to know through testing of the well’s dangerous condition, and the risks that come when working with oil wells. In regards to the damages the plaintiff sustained, the defense stood firm to connect the plaintiff’s cognitive complaint resulting from his TBI diagnosis with the plaintiff’s pre-existing head conditions.

Hunter was determined to debunk all arguments presented by the defense, in their attempts to dispute both liability and injuries. With no offers up until this point, it was at mediation the defense submitted an opening offer of $75,000. The extensive discovery, including depositions and a thorough mediation brief, Hunter assembled ultimately put any arguments of dispute to rest. With relentless negotiation and skillful argumentation, Hunter was able to settle the matter at mediation for $350,000.

award-7

Top 100

Avvo 10

Avvo 10

Top Ten

Top Ten

multi million dollar award

multi million dollar award

BBB

bbb

Super Lawyer

Super Lawyer

Prefferred

Prefferred