A federal jury has returned a $1.2 million verdict in favor of Sharon Coffey in her suit against Chevron USA Inc. for the wrongful death of her husband. The jury found the company was at least “partially at fault” for his death. Thomas Coffey died in 2014 when he fell into Chevron’s Glencoe Junction Sulfur Terminal in Wyoming. The jury found Chevron to be 63 percent at fault. Coffey, a truck driver for Bonneville Transloaders Inc., was at Chevron’s facility to pick up a load of molten sulfur. Tyson Logan, one of Mrs. Coffey’s lawyers, told Law360:
The jury recognized that Chevron broke some really basic safety rules, and its own safety rules, and caused this man’s death. After hearing a week and a half’s worth of evidence, the jury recognized his life was valuable and wanted to make it right for Sharon.
It was reported that Thomas Coffey was working inside Chevron’s safety cage using Chevron’s sulfur-loading equipment when he fell to his death. The safety cage was originally designed to include three safety rails, but was missing the bottom third rail. The Plaintiff contended that Chevron was negligent for failing to keep its property in a reasonably safe condition, saying that Chevron was negligent by removing the bottom guardrail of its safety cage and not providing proper fall-protection equipment. The Plaintiff claimed that Chevron’s employees knew of the missing bottom rail before the fall and had both the time and the opportunity to eliminate the unsafe condition and guard against the fall hazard.
Chevron contended that the Glencoe Junction Sulfur Terminal was properly maintained in a reasonably safe condition for use by drivers loading molten sulfur into the tankers. It said that Thomas Coffey’s employer, BTI, didn’t provide him with the proper training and that he made several mistakes that caused the accident.
The Plaintiff is represented by Noah W. Drew and Tyson Logan of the Spence Law Firm. The case is Coffey v. Chevron USA Inc. (case number 2:16-cv-00001) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.