Madison - St. Clair Record

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Companies seek to transfer well explosion suit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Apr 26, 2016

Several companies seek to transfer a man’s lawsuit to Wayne County, which alleges he sustained injuries from a well explosion while delivering nitrogen.

Clifford and Laura Jerman filed their Jan. 26 complaint against Woolsey Operating Co. LLC; Les Wilson Inc.; Franklin Well Services; C&J Well Services, formerly known as Nabors Completion & Production Services Co.; and Linde North America.

Clifford Jerman claims he was delivering 7,400 gallons of nitrogen to a well in Wayne County on Jan. 27, 2014.  While Jerman was in the “zone of danger,” an explosion occurred, causing debris to hit him and the truck he was unloading, the suit states.

Woosley allegedly owned and operated the well in question at the time of the incident.

Wilson Inc. was acting as the drill operator at the well and was in charge of the drilling operations at the time of the explosion.

Franklin Well Services and C&J Well Services was performing well services at the location where Jerman was injured.

Linde North America owns and operates the truck company that supplied the truck Jerman was driving that day. The plaintiff alleges Linde North America failed to provide a safe place for him to work.

Linde North America filed a motion to dismiss Counts IX and X of the complaint on March 9 through attorneys James Santucci and Amelia Schwingle of Chilton Yambert Porter LLP in Chicago.

In Count IX, Jerman seeks benefits against Linda North American under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act as an employee. However, the defendant alleges his claim is barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Act.

Further, Count X alleges Laura Jerman has been deprived of the consortium of her husband. But Linde North America argues that Count X must be dismissed because it is not liable to the plaintiffs.

“With near unanimity, courts interpreting exclusivity provisions with this or comparable language have held that the provisions preclude actions by a spouse of the employee for loss of consortium,” the motion states.

Franklin Well Services filed a motion to transfer the case to Wayne County for wrongful venue or forum non conveniens.

Represented by William Knapp of Knapp Ohl & Green, the defendant argues that Linda North America is the only defendant connecting this case to Madison County. However, the plaintiffs’ only claim against Linde North America falls under the Workers’ Compensation Act, which they have allegedly already sought and received benefits for.

Therefore, Franklin Well Services argues that Linde North America is not a defendant joined in good faith.

Further, Franklin Well Services argues that the alleged incident took place in Wayne County, making that jurisdiction proper.

Woosley Operating Company filed a motion to join Franklin Well Service’s motion and to transfer the case to Wayne County on March 28 through attorney Jennifer McFadden of Schueler Dallavo & Casieri in Chicago.

C&J Well Services also filed a motion to join the motion to transfer the case to Wayne County on April 7 through attorneys John Cunningham and Denise Baker-Seal of Brown & James in Belleville.

The Jermans are represented by Bob L. Perica of the Perica Law Firm PC in Wood River.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-113

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