• Mestemaker & Straub

Workplace Injury Lawsuit

Diamond Offshore Services Limited and Diamond Offshore Services Company V. Willie David Williams involves a personal injury lawsuit because of a workplace accident on an offshore drilling rig.

Willie David Williams worked for Diamond Offshore Services as a senior mechanic on an offshore rig when he injured himself. Williams has been declared totally disabled by the doctor treating him.

He has suffered from neurological issues as well as severe back pain. Williams has undergone two back surgeries and is still unable to return to work. He sued the Diamond companies under the Jones act in 2011 claiming that the company was negligent and the rig was an unsafe sea vessel.

There were video recordings made of Williams doing physical activities that were like the duties he would have to perform, such as running an excavator, working on a truck, and bending to pick up different items that he would be working with. The FCE (functional capacity evaluation) allegedly claimed that Williams could do more than he claimed he could.

The FCE stated, “Diamond pursued a defensive theory Williams was overstating his pain and downplaying his ability to return to some form of work”. Justice Eva Guzman wrote in the Court’s published opinion.

The Diamond company provided the video at trial and Williams objected, “contending impeachment would be improper because Williams admitted he could engage in the activities portrayed, just not for an extended time and not without pain. He also argued the was not “a fair representation of his disabilities or abilities”. Williams contended that the videos were deceptive and detrimental because they did not show the amount of pain medication he would have to take to complete such work along with not showing the amount of pain he would endure after working on the machines.

Judge Guzman wrote, “Because video evidence can be highly persuasive, when objected to, the trial court must carefully evaluate the factors in Texas Rule of Evidence 403,” Under rule 403, before evidence can be removed “countervailing concerns” must be found to “substantially outweigh the evidence’s probative value”.

Judge Guzman stated that the video should not have been excluded. The trial judge did not allow the video as evidence all the while never once watching the video. The trial judge solely went off the argument that Williams made instead of watching the video and making a clear assessment of the footage.

Originally, the jury was in favor of Williams and he was awarded a $10 million-dollar settlement. The case has now been reversed and sent back to the courts for a new trial.

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