QUINTON, Oklahoma - The jury awarded plaintiffs in the deadly Quinton gas well explosion lawsuit $20 million Tuesday.
It’s been nearly two years since the well fire and explosion in Pittsburg County killed five men. The lawsuit was on behalf of Cody Risk and Josh Ray, two of five victims who were unaccounted for after the explosion.
Each family will receive a percentage of $10 million.
Matthew Smith, Parker Waldridge, Roger Cunningham also lost their lives January 22, 2018.
The rig owner, Red Mountain, and other companies like Crescent, Patterson UTI, and National Oilwell Varco were named in the suit. Red Mountain is the main owner and operator of the rig, and the other companies involved helped with staffing and day to day operations.
NOV is the company that supplied the mud and drilling fluids and the technicians to administer them.
The verdict reached by the jury assigns the percentage of the award as follows: Red Mountain 60%, Patterson-UTI 30% and NOV 10%.
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Families of all five of the men have filed lawsuits.
The following was released by Gum, Puckett, Mackenchnie, Coffin & Matula, LLP regarding the case:
A jury found that Houston-based National Oilwell Varco (NOV) was partially responsible for the January 22, 2018 oil rig well fire and explosion that killed five men.
The tragic accident was the industry’s deadliest since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The trial that just ended in Oklahoma was over a lawsuit brought by the families of two of the lost workers. The well was owned by Red Mountain Energy, of Oklahoma City. The rig was owned and operated by Patterson-UTI Energy, a Houston-based oil field services company. NOV supplied the drilling mud used during the drilling process and supplied one on-site worker.
The jury found that Red Mountain was 60 percent responsible, Patterson-UTI Drilling was 30 percent responsible and NOV was 10 percent responsible. The jury also awarded $20 million in damages to the two families. During trial, the Plaintiffs were seeking $200 million. As a result of the jury’s findings, NOV will be responsible for 1% of that amount ($2mm)
“This was a terrible tragedy and any loss of life in this industry is cause for great concern,” said Craig Weinstock, general counsel of NOV.
During the trial, the lawyers for the families argued that NOV provided the drilling mud, a mud plan, and an on-site mud engineer who was responsible for setting the mud weight and maintaining the mud properties for well control purposes. The jury heard several weeks of testimony to determine which companies were at fault for the accident.
NOV countered that the facts showed the drilling mud, mud weight, mud plan, and NOV’s mud engineer played no role in why the accident occurred. Instead, NOV put on evidence that Red Mountain put financial pressure on the operation to push forward quickly and on budget, the drilling engineer was unlicensed in Oklahoma, the drilling engineer engaged in underbalanced drilling without a proper methodology to do so, the company men exerted pressure on the drilling contractor to drill and trip fast, and ultimately to not close the BOP. NOV’s expert told the jury that had the BOP been closed during the 40 minutes before the explosion, the explosion would have been averted.
The case was heard in the Pittsburg County Court of District Judge Mike Hogan. It is case No. CJ-2018-60, Julie Smith, et al. v. Red Mountain Energy, LLC, et. al.