A Dallas jury recently returned a unanimous verdict awarding $18.9 million to the widow of Gordon Rutherford. The negligence and recklessness suit resulted from a January 2003 explosion at TXI Inc., a cement company located in Midlothian.
Rutherford died while employed by Circle 4M Welding, a contractor for TXI. He was working near an environmental scrubber that contained 5.5 tons of combustible plastic, which caught fire and produced vapors that ignited.
According to a federal Mine Safety and Health Administration investigation, one cause of the accident was that a task analysis, which would have identified the potential hazard, was not performed before the work began. The lawsuit alleged that TXI knew about the combustible nature of the plastic in the scrubber, but failed to warn workers.