The family of two men who watched their brother, and co-worker, die at Beaumont’s Exxon Mobil refinery two years ago should get $44 million, a Jefferson County jury decided last week.
The verdict in the wrongful-death lawsuit, issued Thursday, should cause the industry “to take notice” and “tighten up their safety practices,” said Byron Alfred, an attorney for the victim’s family.
Miguel Barron died, in May 2016 when a heavy pipe fell on him from overhead. In the case, the family said Exxon Mobil Oil Corp., B&G Crane Service, LLC and AltairStrickland, LLC were responsible for the 37-year-old man’s death.
AltairStrickland and Exxon Mobil settled their claims this April, although the terms remain confidential. The trial involved B&G Crane Service. Alfred said the company will be responsible for paying 45 percent of the $44 million.
An attorney for B&G did not return a call for comment.
Barron and his brothers, Hector and Jorge Barron, were employed by AltairStrickland when they were working at the refinery during turnaround operations, according to court records.
Alfred said the men were working together on the same crew when Miguel Barron was killed by a heavy pipe that fell from overhead. He died before an ambulance could transport him from the refinery,” court documents state. The death was caused by “negligence” on the part of the three companies, according to the lawsuit.
Miguel Barron left behind three daughters and his parents. They also were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“Due to deficiencies in Exxon’s rescue plans, Exxon’s on-site medics were not able to reach Miguel Barron within a reasonable time to render initial first aid,” court documents said.
In court records responding to the petition, Exxon Mobil, Altair-Strickland and B&G Crane Service each denied the allegations, with Exxon Mobil saying the death was caused by third-party acts “not within (their) control.”
“We deeply regret this incident. Safety is a core value for Exxon Mobil,” company spokeswoman Ashley Alemayehu said in a statement. “Our goal is zero injuries or illnesses. We strive for an accident-free workplace and an environmental where ‘Nobody Gets Hurt.’”
“We learn from all safety incidents and use such learnings to reinforce our commitment to continued safety improvement,” Alemayehu continued.