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$317,286,604.00 Jury verdict against equipment manufacturer

(Settled before entry of verdict for $195,000,000.00)

September 2019

Lima Refining Company v. HARSCO Corporation Individually and as a Successor by Merger with HARSCO Industrial Hammco, LLC, Individually and as a Successor by Merger with Hammco Corporation; in the 281st Judicial District Court Harris County, Texas; Cause No. 2016-22457.

The legal team of Donato, Brown & Pool, with lead counsel Aaron Pool and co-trial counsel Mark Pickering, represented Lima Refining Company against Harsco Corporation. In 2009 Lima purchased 4 air-cooled heat exchanges for use in the refineries’ Isocracker Unit from Hammco Corporation. Hammco was later merged into Harsco Corporation. On January 10, 2015, one of the air-cooled heat exchangers experienced a catastrophic failure when a long-seam weld on the return header box failed. The failure resulted in the release of high pressure (1800 psi) hydrogen and oil to the atmosphere where it formed a large vapor cloud. The vapor cloud reached an ignition source and exploded causing extensive damage to the refinery. The ensuing fire burned for over 12 hours.

The heat exchanger was made from 2205 duplex stainless steel. The defendant/manufacturer did not understand the proper welding of 2205 duplex. The weld was defective in that the Heat Affected Zone had high ferrite thereby making it susceptible to Sulfide Stress Cracking which led to the weld failure. In the absence of high ferrite, the weld would not have failed.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Lima. However, before the verdict was read, the parties reached a settlement. The jury verdict was then read by the court but did not impact the settlement. The jury did not answer a damages question as the parties stipulated the recoverable damages to be $317,286,604.00.