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Natural Gas Well Owner Pays $5 Million To Settle Pennsylvania Suit Filed By Family Of Well Worker Killed In Explosion

Chevron Appalachia, LLC owned and operated natural gas wells near Dunkard, Pennsylvania, including the Lanco #7H well site. On Feb. 11, 2014, Ian R. McKee was hired by Cameron International Corp., a company that was in turn hired by Chevron to perform services at Lanco #7H well site. A violent natural gas explosion occurred at the well due to a leak in the well or wellhead, resulting in Ian's death.

Ian's parents Denise McKee and Robert McKee, individually, on behalf of Ian's estate, and on behalf of Ian's minor son I.M., filed a wrongful death and survival action against Chevron in the Court of Common Pleas for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The McKees asserted Chevron was negligent in failing to properly oversee all work being performed at the site, failing to use due care in the selection, hiring and training of outside contractors, failing to properly drill and install the well and wellhead, failing to properly maintain the well, failing to prevent or correct a build-up of excessive pressure in the well, failing to prevent the leakage of gas in the well, failing to use appropriate equipment and work practices, and failing to secure and control access to the well. The McKees argued the explosion would not occur in the absence of negligence and asserted the principle of res ipsa loquitor. The McKees also asserted a claim for strict liability. The McKees sought damages for loss of earnings and earning capacity, pain, suffering, inconvenience, and loss of economic contributions, society, comfort, consortium, household services, guidance, tutelage, and moral upbringing.

A settlement was reached during mediation on Jan. 28, 2015, with Chevron agreeing to pay $5,000,000.00 in satisfaction of all claims. From the settlement, the McKees' attorneys were to receive $ 1,666,666.67 for fees and $ 74,641.46 for litigation expenses. $ 2,932.822.68 was to be placed into an irrevocable trust under the wrongful death act on behalf of minor I.M., and Ian's estate was to receive $ 325,869.10 under the survival act.

A petition to approve the settlement was filed on April 1, 2015, and Judge Judith Friedman entered an order approving the petition on May 13, 2015.

Lexis Advance subscribers can view the complete summary here: Denise McKee and Robert McKee, Individually and on behalf of the estate of Ian R. McKee, deceased, and on behalf of I.M., and all wrongful death claimants v. Chevron Appalachia, LLC; 2015 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3531

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