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Explosion kills worker, injures 2 others; jury awards $20M

General contractors have to make sure their own employees live by the rules set for subcontractors. That’s the lesson from an expensive lawsuit in Texas.

A Texas jury has awarded $19.9 million to the family of one employee who was killed and to two other workers who were severely injured in a natural gas explosion.

Genaro Castillo, Luis Moreno and Meliton Lerma were part of a crew performing demolition work at a Hilcorp Energy gas plant outside of Vanderbilt, TX, in 2008.

The men worked for RCS Demolition, a subcontractor hired by general contractor A&R Demolition.

A cutting torch being used on the job hit a pocket of volatile hydrocarbons, causing the explosion.

Lerma died after being burned on 50% of his body. Moreno received second- and third-degree burns on 57% of his body. Castillo was burned on 10% of his body.

The men claimed they were never warned about the risk of explosion.

A&R and Hilcorp claimed they told RCS fire should not be used on the job.

However, attorneys for the workers pointed out that A&R’s own employees also used cutting torches on the job.

The jury found both A&R and Hilcorp negligent.

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