Weatherford Democrat

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June 28, 2013

Parker County truck wreck lawsuit one of two settled for combined $11.7 million

Truck wreck attorney says oil and gas boom causing roadway dangers

From Staff Reports

Two Texas men critically injured in separate tractor-trailer accidents in 2011, including one in Parker County, earned significant financial settlements against two companies that haul water to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, sites.

Fort Worth truck accident attorneys Steven C. Laird and Wade A. Barrow from The Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C., secured the two settlements totaling $11.7 million for the men and their families.

"My clients suffered terrible injuries because these companies didn't comply with federal regulations and failed to make safety a priority," Laird said. "The growing energy industry has brought incredible revenue to Texas, but our roads are becoming more and more dangerous every day as a result."

The second of the two wrecks occurred Sept. 11, 2011, near Weatherford, that resulted brain damage to Arron Gomas, 32, after he broadsided a tractor-trailer owned by Weatherford-based Bob Phillips Trucking (also called Phillips Water Hauling) as the truck's driver attempted to make an illegal U-turn shortly before midnight.

The case was settled on behalf of Gomas and his family for $3 million on June 13. The $3 million award was the maximum payout available from the trucking firm's insurance carrier.

Diane Lamb, of Bob Phillips Trucking, said the wreck was not the company's fault and said the decision to settle was made by the insurance company.

"The guy was texting and he ran into the back of us," Lamb said. "We didn't even receive a citation. It wasn't our fault. This makes us look really bad and we didn't do anything wrong."

The first wreck occurred June 22, 2011, when a semitrailer blocked the right of way on a state highway near Carthage. Mike Allen crashed into a heavy truck owned by Coraopolis, Pa.-based Heckmann Water Resources. The truck was stopped on the road without turn signals or flashing lights.

The crash left Allen unable to financially support his wife and young daughter because of the injuries he sustained in the wreck. On June 20 a court approved a settlement in which Heckmann agreed to pay Allen and his family $8.7 million, which is believed to be the largest lawsuit settlement in Panola County history.

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