Jonathan Brazzel, 25, died of what appears to be a head injury he received at a Chesapeake Energy well site in DeSoto. He died at the scene.
Brazzel’s death is the second connected to the oil and natural gas industry in the past three months in this region. Two serious injuries connected with pipeline projects also have been reported within the same time frame.
It seems the oil & gas industry has immunity from workplace death or injury lawsuits. That’s almost as convenient as being exempt from federal environmental laws.
Rhetorical Question: Is there any instance where this industry is held measurably responsible for the destruction they cause?
Wyoming is trying to change the immunity with pending legislation. Energy industry’s immunity at stake
Currently, state law dictates that a contractor is immune from litigation as long as the company pays worker’s compensation insurance. That immunity extends to the site operator (e.g. the energy company) unless the company shows enough control over the workspace to demonstrate liability – and that hasn’t happen in 15 years.
The last Wyoming suit that showed operator liability was in 1994 when a contractor’s employee won a $1.4-million suit against Natural Gas Processing (NGP) after he suffered extreme head trauma during the finishing stages of drilling.
In that case the Wyoming Supreme Court found a NGP employee had explicitly ordered the directives that led to the accident.
But since 1994, not one operator has been found liable for an injury or death even though Wyoming has one of the highest workplace death rates in the country.
The industry is issuing their mantra about how any change in rules or regulation would cause them great harm.
“I think it would have a really chilling effect on this industry,” said Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. “We are pretty nervous about this bill.”
Calling it a “money grab by trial lawyers,” Hinchey said the majority of the money wouldn’t make it to an injured worker anyway. He says the money would end up in attorneys’ pockets.
Exxon shatters profit records
Oil giant makes corporate history by booking $11.7 billion in quarterly profit; earns $1,300 a second in 2007.
Exxon Mobil: Biggest profit in history [AGAIN]
The largest U.S. oil company surges past analysts’ estimates with a posted net income of $14.83 billion and sets a national record for quarterly profit.
Exxon Mobil, Chevron report record profits in 2008
I could spend all day just recording the record profits but I’m blogging from Starbucks so…back to death and drilling…
Services for Jonathan Brazzel, 26, of Shreveport, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church, 406 W. Main St. in Homer. The graduate of Mount Olive Christian School in Athens is survived by his wife, Jenna Paul Brazzel, daughters Jaylyn Brazzel and Cassidy Paul, all of Bossier City, mother, Jan Duncan, of Shreveport, father, Lane Brazzel, of Dubach, stepmother, Jackie Brazzel, of Fairfield, Texas, a sister, two brothers, grandparents and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins.
His death is being “probed.”
“Our thoughts and sympathies continue to go out to Mr. Brazzel’s family members,” said Kevin McCotter, Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s director of corporate development in Louisiana.
So, how about showing your sympathy by setting up a trust fund for his two daughters and handing his widow a big wad of some of that cash you made last year?