Diamond Shamrock Refining Co. v. Hall case

Diamond Shamrock Refining Co. v. Hall case

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Diamond Shamrock Refining Co. v. Hall case

The Diamond Shamrock Refining Co. v. Hall case was ruled over by Justice Nathan Hecht. The plaintiff was the wife of the victim, Charles Hall. The victim had died of severe burns during his working hours at the refinery when an explosion occurred. The defendant in this case was Diamond Shamrock Refining Company. The victims’ wife sued the refining company and its partners for gross negligence to recover exemplary damages.

Legal categorization and remedies sought

The Diamond Shamrock Refining Co. v. Hall was civil in nature. This is because the jury found the Diamond Shamrock Refining Company guilty of gross negligence and awarded them the full consequences of ignoring such standards as was stipulated in section 41.008 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (Findlaw, 2005). These sets of laws govern civil behavior within the society. The nature of the death of Mr. Charles Hall was civil in that he lost his live in the course of carrying out his duties at the firm. Initially, the jury assessed the evidence and agreed to fine Diamond Shamrock $42.5 million as well as any prejudgment interest accrued for some of the damages encountered by the Hall family (Findlaw, 2005). Both Mrs. Hall and Diamond Shamrock Company appealed against this court decision. The court then decided to reverse the judgment and set a new trial. The new trial concluded that after considering the new arguments raised by both parties, it was clear that there was no clear evidence of gross negligence by Diamond Shamrock Company. The plaintiff responded by claiming that Diamond Shamrock surrendered its evidentiary dispute by moving in open court for ruling on the verdict (Findlaw, 2005).

Facts on the accident and the ruling

The accident that caused Charles Hall’s death took place when a reciprocating gas compressor at Diamond Shamrock’s crude oil refinery in Dumas shattered. The compressor was used to condensed vapors created in other sections of the plant so that their hydrocarbon components could be taken out and used rather than be wasted. The plant personnel realized that to stop an explosion, they would have to switch off the compressor by cutting off the fuel supply to its engine. Before the compressor could be switched off, it exploded and injured three men including Mr. Hall. Eight days later, Hall succumbed to his injuries and died (Findlaw, 2005). Although the plaintiff pointed out several flaws in the refinery plant, the court ruled that the plaintiff failed to convince the court and jury that Diamond Shamrock knew of the risks in their plant and failed to do anything about it. The final verdict by the court of appeal sided with Diamond Shamrock and did not award any compensation to Mrs. Hall (Findlaw, 2005).

Justification of the ruling by the court

The court argued that the refinery operations were explicitly categorized as being dangerous and that all of Diamond Shamrock’s employees knew this. The efforts by Diamond Shamrock at protecting their employees were deemed unsatisfactory but this did not mean that the company was indifferent about their employees’ safety. In their case, Diamond Shamrock did not know and ignore the dangers in their plant but cared about the welfare of their employees. The major applicable laws included section 408.001 of the Texas Labor Code and article 16, section 26 of the Texas Constitution (Findlaw, 2005).

Implications and issues for the safety professionals

The civil case came about because of the poor safety policy adopted by Diamond Shamrock administration. The safety department might have survived the court case but they need to upgrade their safety mechanism and award the crew safer working conditions in the event of another accident (Findlaw, 2005). Some of the legal terminologies used in the Diamond shamrock refining Co. v. Hall include gross negligence, wrongful death and evidentiary challenge.

References

Findlaw. (2005) Diamond Shamrock Refining Co. v. Hall. FindLaw. Retrieved from http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-supreme-court/1094142.html