Energy center employee killed in explosion. $150M. Riverside County.

Summary

Parent company is said to be responsible for death of worker at its subsidiary's facility.

The Case

  • Case Name: Collins v. Diamond Generating Corporation
  • Court and Case Number: Riverside Superior Court / PSC 1901096
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, July 27, 2022
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, February 14, 2019
  • Type of Action: Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Manuel Bustamonte
  • Plaintiffs:
    Denise and Christopher Collins (wife and son of decedent)
  • Defendants:
    Diamond Generating Corporation a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $150,000,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $145,500,000
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 2% on decedent; 1% on another nonparty.
  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Denise Collins (wife):

    Past: $5,000,000

    Future: $54,000,000

    Christopher Collins (son):

    Past: $10,000,000

    Future: $81,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 12 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 1/2 hrs
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 all questions
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Pending.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Basile Law Firm by Jude Basile, Cambria.

    Golper Sullivan and Rivera by David Sullivan, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Schumann Rosenberg & Arevalo LLP by Kim Schumann and David Reid, Costa Mesa.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Christopher Lane P.E., engineering.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David A. Krauss, Ph.D., human factors.

    Brady Held, video animations.

    James Mason Ph.D., engineering.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On March 6, 2017 an explosion occurred at the Sentinel Energy Center just outside Palm Springs. Workers were shutting down a part to the high pressure natural gas power plant when gas was trapped in a fuel filter.

    As Daniel Collins was removing the lid of the filter, the lid exploded, killing Collins instantly. Collins left a wife of 25 years and an adult son, age 23. Defendant Diamond Generating Corporation was the parent company of DGC-OPS that operated the Sentinel Energy Center.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs claimed Diamond Generating Corporation undertook safety at the plant by hiring the manager, placing the manager in charge of safety at the plant, providing safety policies, reviewing the plant manager's performance in safety, reviewing safety procedures at the plant, specifically the procedure in use the day of the explosion.

    A senior Diamond Generating Corporation safety and compliance officer admitted under cross-examination to reviewing safety procedures at the plant and admitting Diamond Generating Corporation was responsible for safety at the plant when Collins was killed. Additionally, Diamond Generating Corporation had a meeting discussing safety procedures and how to inform workers of changes in the procedures just weeks before the explosion and did not inform workers of changes. A similar "near miss" exactly like the one that killed Collins happened three years before, but nothing was done to prevent it from happening again.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants contended they did not undertake safety and it was the responsibility of other parties. Defendants presented contracts that had provisions that other parties were responsible for safety at the plant in spite of the plaintiffs contentions. Additionally, defendant blamed the plant workers and Collins for causing the explosion.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Death.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None presented.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $3,000,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $35,000
  • Defendant Offer during Trial: $1,000,000, then $2,000,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff was found 1% at fault. DGC OPS was found 2%, Diamond Generating Corporation: 97%. 

Workers' compensation was not a remedy as decedent was not employed by Diamond Generating Company.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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