A jury in Washington County, Ohio, recently returned a verdict of $5.671 million in favor of a 53-year-old man who sustained injuries as a result of an explosion at an AEP plant in 2007. Drumand McLaughlin was employed by Ohio Power Company, an AEP subsidiary, when he sustained shoulder injuries during the explosion at the AEP facility in Beverly, Ohio. The jury found that Ohio Power Company acted with a deliberate intent to cause harm to the Plaintiff. Companies must conduct their business in a safe manner so that their employees and the general public are not put in harm’s way.
Jurors heard testimony during the trial from numerous experts, including compressed gas experts, relating to the explosion being caused by the dangerous conditions on a hydrogen tank at the facility. There was evidence that even though AEP had experienced a similar explosion at its Kammer plant in Marshall County, W.Va. approximately 15 months earlier, it failed to take any steps to correct that problem at the Miskingum River facility following the Kammer explosion. A series of fires and explosions in company hydrogen systems and a litany of documents establishing company knowledge of the dangers was enough for the jury to conclude that AEP was liable for deliberately intending injuries to occur. Chris Regan, one of the lawyers for the Plaintiffs, had this to say:
Companies cannot simply ignore major safety issues at their facilities. The jury was able to hear the evidence and concluded that we cannot allow this type of conduct to go unpunished. Being held accountable for ignoring safety rules is a necessity. We feel it’s very important that a large company that disregards its safety rules that are put in place to protect employees be held accountable for those actions.
The jury awarded $1.571 million to the Plaintiff and $100,000 to his wife and an additional $4 million in punitive damages. The jury also determined that Mr. & Mrs. McLaughlin should be entitled to recover their reasonable attorneys’ fees in an amount that will be determined by the trial judge. Geoffrey Brown and Chris Regan, lawyers with the firm Bordas & Bordas, located in Wheeling, W. Va., along with Rod Windom and Scott Windom, lawyers from Harrisville, W.Va., represented the McLaughlins and they did a very good job.
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