A Wyoming jury found Chevron U.S.A. Inc., negligent and responsible for a man’s death and awarded a verdict of $1.2 million in wrongful death damages. Truck driver Tom Coffey fell to his death on Chevron’s property near Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 2014. Spence trial lawyers Tyson E. Logan and Noah W. Drew represented Sharon Coffey, Mr. Coffey’s widow, in the wrongful death case against Chevron, claiming that Chevron was responsible for Coffey’s death because it failed to provide a reasonably safe place for Mr. Coffey to work, and because its safety equipment was unreasonably dangerous.
During the 2-week jury trial in federal court in Casper, Wyoming, Tyson Logan argued that Mr. Coffey was killed on Chevron’s property using Chevron’s faulty equipment–he fell to his death approximately 10′ while loading molten sulfur into the top of a tanker trailer. Chevron required that workers like Coffey use a “safety cage” guardrail system while they worked at height at the facility, but, the third, bottom guardrail from the safety cage had been removed before the day Mr. Coffey fell to his death. Chevron knew the cage was missing a guardrail, but left it in use and required workers continue to use it.
In his closing argument, Logan argued to the jury that Chevron “cut corners and disregarded safety equipment, hacking off rails that would have saved a man’s life. And they left Sharon Coffey alone out there in that house . . . Does it matter; or not? Do we care?”
The jury’s verdict found Chevron negligent for Mr. Coffey’s death, and assessed 63% of the fault on Chevron, and 37% of the fault on Coffey’s employer, and 0% on Mr. Coffey himself. Chevron’s lawyers argued to the jury that the safety cage was safe, and that even if Chevron was negligent, it was only 20% responsible for the fatality. Under Wyoming comparative fault law Chevron is required to pay its 63% of the total damages verdict.
The case was filed in the United States District Court for Wyoming, civil case No. 16 cv 001-S. Judge Skavdahl presided over the trial.