Attorney Tony Buzbee. Image courtesy of myfoxaustin/Youtube.

The family of a Texas oilfield services worker who died in a 2011 accident was awarded $29 million Thursday by a Houston jury.

Garland “Rickie” Kelley, 38, died in January 2011 after an industrial battery exploded at a Professional Directional Enterprises facility in Conroe, Texas.

Kelley’s family filed suit against Texas-based Professional Directional Enterprises alleging the battery was improperly heated to extend its life and was known to be defective before the blast, said.

The suit claimed gross negligence and also included allegations that evidence from the blast went missing.

Federal investigators found Professional Directional Enterprises had committed federal safety regulation violations.

Jurors found the company 80 percent liable for the accident.

Another defendant was found 20 percent liable but settled with the family before closing arguments.

Kelley’s family won $4 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.

“This verdict should send a message to smaller oil and gas operators that the practice of reheating oilfield tool batteries must stop. The death of Rickie Kelley was absolutely preventable,” Kelley family attorney Tony Buzbee, of The Buzbee Law Firm, said.


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