Partner Connie Pfeiffer in Law360 and Texas Lawyer

Texas Justices Order New Trial In $9.6M Oil Rig Injury Case

  • March 5, 2018

Citing the improper exclusion of video evidence that shows an injured oil rig worker performing manual labor, the Texas Supreme Court on Friday ordered a new trial in the case that originally resulted in a $9.6 million jury verdict against Diamond Offshore Services Ltd.

The Texas Supreme Court wrote in its opinion last Friday, March 2, that it was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion to exclude the video — which shows Willie David Williams working on a vehicle, operating a mini excavator and doing other activities involving bending and lifting — without having watched it first.

Initially, at trial, Diamond offered the video on three separate occasions, both for impeachment and as substantive evidence regarding Mr. Williams’ pain and physical abilities. Each time, the trial judge stood by her prior ruling after only a brief exchange with counsel.  The jury returned a verdict for Mr. Williams, finding nearly $10 million in lost earning capacity, medical expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and physical impairment.

Beck Redden Partner Connie Pfeiffer, who represents Diamond Offshore, told Law360 last Friday that the court's ruling is "meticulous and compelling" and will help to advance the "fairness and accuracy of jury verdicts."

"This ruling is good for both sides of the bar," she said. "It will help plaintiffs and defendants alike get highly probative visual evidence before the jury. Trials are meant to be a search for truth, and we can absorb so much more with our eyes than with our ears.  Giving juries visual evidence is much more powerful and helpful than testimony alone."

Excerpted from Law360 and Texas Lawyer. To read the full Law360 article, click here.  To read the full Texas Lawyer article, click here.