CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A lawsuit was settled last week in Harrison County for $12 million against drilling companies after an incident left a worker paralyzed.
The lawsuit against Frontier Drilling and Antero Resources claimed unsafe working conditions at a job site in Salem.
Joseph Davenport sued over an incident that occurred in May 2011 while he was trying to repair the drill on the rig, according to Charleston attorney Bobby Warner, who represented him.
"They should've shut down the job and contacted a third party to come in and repair it. Obviously, that would have caused the job to be shut down and they're under pressure to keep things moving," Warner said. "[Davenport] was directed by a supervisor to basically perform a very unsafe task in an attempt to fix the broken part of the drill."
The tools designed for the task were worn out and broken, according to the complaint filed in Harrison Circuit Court.
Pressure placed on a drilling device known as a "power tong," which Davenport was forced to use, began to whip rapidly, striking him in the chest and throwing him into the rig, Warner said. "That's what snapped his spinal column," the lawyer said.
Davenport was originally diagnosed as a quadriplegic. He is still considered a paraplegic but is now able to walk with the assistance of leg braces and crutches, Warner said.
Representatives of Frontier and Antero could not be reached for comment late Monday.
During a deposition, Jason Ware, a safety coordinator with Antero, according to transcripts, said that in the 36 months he had worked at the rig, 25 to 30 work-related accidents occurred that resulted in broken bones or surgeries, not counting stitches.