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Tuesday, September 30, 1997

Family to receive $4.6 settlement in oil rig death case

DALLAS (AP) - A drilling company and other businesses agreed Monday to pay $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the widow and children of a man killed in a 1994 oil derrick accident in Southwest Texas.

Rodolfo Zamudio, 28, was working at a gas well near Ozona, about 70 miles southwest of San Angelo, when he was struck in the head by a 45-foot-long pipe weighing about 600 pounds, said plaintiffs' attorney Dan Sciano.

The Wes-Tex Drilling Co. employee was hit when one of four joints of casing pipe being lifted to a drilling platform floor fell from a sling, Sciano said.

"They were lifting four at a time in direct violation of the company safety policy," he said.

In the settlement agreement, Wes-Tex Drilling Co.; well operators J. Cleo Thompson and James C. Thompson Jr.; Thompson Petroleum Corp.; and W.T. Oilfield Services, agreed to pay $4.6 million to Zamudio's heirs, Sciano said.

Zamudio is survived by his 27-year-old wife, Elisa Zamudio of Rock Springs, and three children, ranging in age from 4 to 9.

The wrongful death lawsuit sought damages for Zamudio's pain and suffering, medical bills and funeral expenses and for his family's emotional turmoil and their loss of income and companionship, Sciano said.

The defendants admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, both plaintiffs and defense attorneys said.

"I think from the standpoint of Wes-Tex and J. Cleo Thompson and those defendants that it showed they did care about Mr. Zamudio, that they did go the extra mile to make sure his family was taken care of," said attorney Terrence Martin, who represented W.T. Oilfield Services, which paid less than 5 percent of the total judgment.

Sciano said the payment reflects how seriously defendants considered the risk in the case.

"It was a very clear case of liability that was hotly disputed in the beginning and by the end of the case, it was evident that a horrible mistake had been made on the job site," he said.

"The reality is in my opinion it's a good resolution for the children, and I think it will make a difference. The policies that were established will now be enforced on the job sites."Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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