Jury verdict for worker with crushed foot vacated

The Texas Court of Appeals in Houston reversed a $2.8 million jury verdict for a worker whose foot was crushed on an oil and gas platform, rendering him permanently injured.

However, Tuesday’s ruling also granted the worker a rehearing of the case “to seek a remand in the interest of justice” as the trial court failed to apply the correct legal standard in the case, according to documents in W&T Offshore Inc. v. Luke Meyers.

Luke Meyers was working on an oil and gas platform off the coast of Louisiana in May 2011 when a crane cable snapped and caused a 62.5-pound weight to fall about 50 feet. The weight struck Mr. Meyers and crushed his foot. He sued the owner of the platform, W&T Offshore Inc., an oil and gas exploration and production company.

The jury charge submitted a general-negligence question rather than a premises-liability question finding W&T negligent and ordering a $2.8 million award, according to records.

W&T moved for a judgment “notwithstanding the verdict because Meyers failed to obtain a jury finding on an essential element of a premises-liability claim,” records state. The trial court denied the motion and W&T appealed.

The three-judge appellate court panel unanimously found that the judgment “must be reversed” because Texas courts must apply Louisiana substantive law as surrogate federal law under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, thus agreeing with W&T “that Louisiana law recognizes a distinction between negligent-activity and premises-liability theories of recovery and that Meyers failed to secure a jury finding on any element of his claim.”

Mr. Meyers subsequently filed a motion for rehearing.

“Because we clarify in this appeal how a premises-liability theory should be submitted under Louisiana law, as surrogate federal law mandated by OCSLA, we remand in the interest of justice rather than render a take-nothing judgment,” the appeals court’s ruling states.

“The judgment against W&T is reversed, and the case is remanded for additional proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

Officials with W&T could not immediately be reached for comment.