A Wyoming jury has awarded $5.1 million dollars in damages to an oil and gas worker who was injured on the job in 2011.
Then 22-year-old Horr was part of a crew working on a Merit Energy oil well when built-up pressure escaped, sending a piece of rubber through his left arm and shattering it. Attorney Bryan Ulmer with the Spence Law Firm says Horr has lost use of his arm as a result.
Merit Energy argued that the fault lay with its contractor, Basic Energy Services, not with the company, but a jury in Sweetwater County disagreed, finding both companies to blame. Ulmer hopes the award will make people think about workplace safety.
“To reflect on whether they’re doing things the right way, whether they’re making the right choices and whether they’re doing all that they could be doing to make what is undeniably a dangerous job as safe as it can be,” Ulmer says.
Wyoming has one of the worst workplace safety records in the country. In contrast to the jury award, the average fine for workplace safety violations in the state is $700, according to the AFL-CIO. The national average is roughly $2000.