The New York Times Features West Virginia Lawsuit to Highlight the “Deadliest Danger” to Oil and Natural Gas Field Workers and Drivers on America’s Highways.
The Front Page of the New York Times today featured the West Virginia lawsuit filed by Crystal Roth, on behalf of her husband, Timothy, a natural gas field service worker who was killed in a company truck that crashed when his co-worker fell asleep. The New York Times article, “Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig but on the Road,” highlights the dangers involved in the natural gas industry, particularly with fatigued drivers who are pushed to operate commercial vehicles well-beyond legal and safe limits.
In Mrs. Roth’s lawsuit, her husband’s employer actively attempted to circumvent the Department of Transportation (DOT) safety regulations which limit the number of hours an employee can work and drive. Prior to Timothy Roth’s death, his employer, Energy Services, of Grand Junction, Colo., had received numerous citations for allowing or requiring its employees to drive after the 14 hour per shift limit. Less than one year before Timothy’s tragic death, Energy Services lost its DOT authority to operate commercial motor vehicles.
The Roth case also highlights another problem which was recently the subject of a Government Accountability Office Study – that of “chameleon” companies. A “chameleon” company is essentially a shell company formed by businesses that have had so many violations that they have lost their DOT authority to operate a commercial motor vehicle. These owners and operators start a new, shell company to circumvent DOT detection, and like in the Roth lawsuit, often go back to the same inappropriate and illegal practices.
According to attorney Dino Colombo, whose law firm Colombo Law, represents the Roth Estate, “the Roth case is a tragedy that was predictable and at the same time completely preventable.” Due to Energy Services’ numerous violations, many of which involved fatigued drivers, the DOT shut them down. The owners of Energy Services then started a “chameleon” company – Energy Specialties – to get around their DOT revocation; same owners, same violations, tragic results.
“What is unbelievable in the Roth case is that current and former employees have testified that the company instructed them to lie on their driver’s logs. This testimony is supported by the logs produced during discovery,” says Mr. Colombo.
As the The New York Times article highlights, these bad practices can ultimately lead to tragedy such as the death of Timothy Roth. For more information or for press inquiries and interviews, please contact Dino Colombo at (304) 599-4229.
The law firm of Colombo Law represents clients who have suffered serious personal injury or the death of a loved one due to trucking accidents, products liability, workplace accidents, motorcycle accidents, and automobile accidents.