A Texas appeals court has reversed a lower court ruling that said National Oilwell Varco and an independent trucking company were not responsible for a fatal car crash that occurred when the vehicle slid on oil mud covering a highway.
Varco had employed Big Red trucking to haul mud from a drill site near Flatonia, Texas. The Big Red truck did not have a tarp or cover and some of the mud dropped onto a nearby highway. Amanda Bujnoch was a passenger in a vehicle that slid off the highway and rolled when the vehicle encountered some of the oil-based mud cuttings. She died in the crash and her family sued.
National Oilwell Varco argued it did not owe the traveling public a duty to inspect or ensure that Big Red secured its load before entering a public road or highway.
“NOV was not a mere bystander in this case,” stated the appellate court. “NOV, having undertaken the duty to load the mud, was required to use reasonable care in doing so to prevent an unreasonable risk of harm to other motorists—-.”