Two companies found responsible for the faulty construction of an industrial oil heater at a Texas (TX) natural gas plant have been ordered to pay $85 million to survivors of a worker killed after the heater exploded. According to a report in the June 14, 2010, Mineral Wells (TX) Index, a jury determined that Exterran Energy Solutions, then operating as Hanover Compression LP, and Quicksilver Resources Inc. were “grossly negligent in the death … for failure to properly construct the heater and ensure it was up to industry safety standards.”

Joshua Wade Petrie, 27, lost his life
in late May 2007, leaving behind his wife, two daughters and a then-unborn son. Most of the damages awarded in the wrongful death suit will go to the Petrie children.

It is unclear whether Exterran/Hanover — which bears full responsibility for paying the judgment — will appeal the jury’s verdict. It may find doing so difficult, though, since the jury determined that Petrie bore no liability for the deadly explosion that occurred when he attempt to light the burner on the oil heater.

When companies cut corners on construction, inspections and safety, workers too often suffer life-changing injuries or die. Oil and gas companies — and construction, shipping and mining companies — cannot put speed, profit or any other consideration above worker’s health. While no amount of money can replace a lost husband and father, I applaud the Texas jurors for holding Exterran/Hanover and Quicksilver to account for their negligence.