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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Injured welder awarded $947,000

Jury agrees companies involved in oil rig share responsibility for collapse of unsecured scaffolding

By , Columbian Local News Editor

A Clark County jury on Monday awarded a welder who was seriously injured in a December 2010 oil rig construction accident nearly $1 million.

Charles Pamplin was one of hundreds of workers hired to work on a BP oil rig that would be sent via ship to Alaska. The Houma, La., resident fell from unsecured scaffolding while working on the rig at the Thompson Metal Fab yard in Vancouver, shattering his left foot and heel. The injury left him with chronic pain and limited mobility, according to a PR Ink bulletin.

After a seven-day trial and only a few hours of deliberation, the jury reached its verdict Monday evening.

In total, Pamplin was awarded $947,180 for damages suffered in the fall, distributing shares of fault among the defendants, including a percentage to Pamplin.

Pamplin’s Portland attorney, Tom D’Amore of D’Amore Law Group, argued during the trial that the fall would have been completely preventable if the company, Safway Corp., had followed its own safety procedures. He said the project was more than a year behind schedule and there were only a handful of workers on site handling over 100 scaffolds.

He said no one had secured the scaffolding to the structure or posted safety or warning signs preventing workers from using it. “Why wouldn’t you have tied this precarious scaffolding to the structure?” he said in a phone interview.

“I think worker safety is getting a short shrift, especially on these huge multimillion-dollar projects. Someone has got to look a little bit closer at the safety of these workers,” D’Amore said.

On Dec. 15, 2010, Pamplin and another worker were told by a supervisor to weld from the top of the 11-foot scaffolding. The scaffolding remained intact while they worked. However, after they finished, Pamplin realized he’d left his jacket on the scaffolding, and when he climbed up to retrieve it, the scaffolding toppled, the press release said. Safway Corp. was cited for placing workers at risk of injury.

D’Amore said Pamplin has tried to go back to welding but “failed miserably because of the pain.” He now works as a maintenance man at his church.

“Charles has lost his career, his health, and is left with a debilitating pain that will remain forever with him,” D’Amore said in the news release from PR Ink.

Pamplin’s personal injury complaint, which was filed in February 2012, listed Safway Services Inc. of Delaware, Parker Drilling Management Services Inc. of Nevada, Parker Technology Inc. of Oklahoma, Parker Drilling Co. of Delaware and Vancouver-based Thompson Metal Fab Inc. as defendants. Vancouver attorney Greg Price was co-counsel on the case.