Jane S. Leger of The Ferguson Law Firm recently reached a wrongful death settlement arising out of an explosion in New Mexico that left three dead. A company that provided inadequate safety training remains in her crosshairs. The Ferguson Law Firm’s client was the foreman of a 3-man welding crew that responded to a warranty demand for a leak at a tank battery. As this crew was preparing to address a welding defect, an explosion occurred and the men were burned alive.
The companies blamed the crew claiming they had been warned of the location’s dangers but proceeded to weld anyway. Ms. Leger refused to believe this because her client had a reputation for being a very safe and careful worker. After an extensive investigation, a witness finally admitted it was all a lie and the crew had not been warned as Leger suspected. The failure of the operator to report previous spills to the state provided the basis of New Mexico’s civil racketeering claims. Leger added the racketeering claims to the lawsuit once that fraud was uncovered.
Ms. Leger was referred this case by lawyers in Georgia with whom she has worked in the past on other explosion cases. The case settled for 33 million with the families equally splitting the funds. This settlement joins two other substantial multi-million-dollar settlements of cases referred to Leger by other lawyers in the past year. One involved a motor vehicle collision that inured an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy when a pizza delivery driver ran a stop sign. The other was a fatal motor vehicle collision in Ector County caused when a welding rig ran a stop sign. The referring lawyer retained Ms. Leger to pursue a case against the welder’s employer who denied responsibility for the crash by claiming the welder was not in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the wreck despite the fact the employer rented out the rig. Leger stated “The highest compliment I can receive as a lawyer is to have other lawyers refer significant cases to me trusting I will take the utmost care of their clients.” These settlements follow Ms. Leger’s 2017 hall of fame verdict in Texas for being the highest for workplace safety.