$20 Million Jury Verdict in the Deaths of Two Workers in Fire at Oil Rig

In January 2018, a blowout and well fire took place on a Pryor 1H-9 oil rig that trapped five men, including Josh Ray, 35, and Cody Risk, 26. The workers were trapped inside a so-called doghouse, which is a safe house within the rig that is designed to provide protection in case of a fire.

Unfortunately, unable to escape, the two men died from thermal burns and soot inhalation.

Ray had been a driller and was survived by his wife and minor child. Risk had been a floor hand and was survived by three minor children.

Ray’s wife and Risk’s family sued Red Mountain Energy, the operator of the oil well; Crescent Consulting, a reported agent of Red Mountain that supplied workers to oversee the operation; drilling company Patterson UTI; and National Oilwell Varco, which designed the rig’s mud program to ensure safe drilling of the well. All of the defendants except National Oilwell Varco settled with the families.

The Ray and Risk claims pursued negligence and wrongful death claims against National Oilwell Varco, alleging that the doghouse was not designed with fire protectant properties and lacked a fire-safe emergency door, among other deficiencies in its lawsuit.

The plaintiffs also maintained that the mud National Oilwell Varco had supplied was not dense enough to control pressure during drilling operation.

The plaintiffs claimed $2 million in economic losses for Ray and $1 million for Risk.

The jury signed a verdict for $20 million, apportioning liability at 60% to Red Mountain Energy and Crescent, 30% to Patterson UTI and 10% to National Oilwell Varco.

The attorneys successfully handling these tragic cases were David Rumley, Jeff Wiginston and Joe Dunn.

Brite v. National Oilwell Varco, Nos. CJ-2018-90, CJ-2018-91 (Okla. Dist. Ct. Pittsburg County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling wrongful death lawsuits, fire cases, work injury lawsuits and construction cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Lincolnwood, Lincolnshire, Morton Grove, Glenview, Schaumburg, River Grove, LaGrange, Western Springs, Bedford Park, Evergreen Park, South Holland, Calumet City, East Hazel Crest, Homewood, Oak Forest, Chicago (West Pullman, Roseland, Washington Heights, Beverly, Roscoe Village, North Lawndale, Back of the Yards, Little Italy, Greek Town, Douglas, Chinatown, Humboldt Park, West Loop, Near North Side, Lakeview, East Garfield Park, Little Village), Berwyn, North Riverside, Maywood, Villa Park, Glen Ellyn, Naperville and Lake Zurich, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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