A 27-year-old Baton Rouge man was awarded $37.1 million from an Iberville Parish jury after losing his leg four years ago in a work-related accident at a chemical plant near St. Gabriel.
The jury Tuesday night found negligence on the part of Total Petrochemicals and Refining, a multinational energy company headquartered in Houston, was the primary factor in the accident in which Logan Milstead's leg was crushed by a 6,000-pound counterweight that fell on him when part of the loading dock he worked on collapsed.
Milstead, an Army veteran, had to undergo 13 surgeries as a result of his injuries, which eventually led to the amputation of his leg.
Total Petrochemicals spokeswoman said the company intends to appeal.
"We wish the best for Mr. Milstead," spokeswoman Trica Fuller said in an email Wednesday. "We disagree with the verdict."
In most cases, multimillion-dollar jury awards are overturned or lowered by judges during the appeals process.
Nevertheless, plaintiff attorney Michael Fruge said they are prepared to fight any appeal by the company.
"They have the money to pay it," Fruge said. "They are a multibillion-dollar company. They can pay it and not blink."
Milstead worked as a dockman and was responsible for testing chemicals as they were transferred between Total's plant and the barges and ships that moored the company's floating dock along the Mississippi River, according to the lawsuit.
On Dec. 14, 2013, Milstead was trying to inspect a loud noise coming from a loading arm, the device through which chemicals are transferred between the barges and the plant.
The lawsuit says the loading arm failed, causing a 6,000-pound counterweight to fall on Milstead, trapping him underneath it for 1½ hours.
Tony Clayton, the lead attorney for Milstead, said there had been previous problems with the loading arm before his client's accident.
"They had a camera on the thing and knew it was broken but didn't tell him and let this man go out there," Clayton said.
Milstead was awarded $8.2 million for past and future medical expenses, $2.4 million for past and future loss of wages, $10 million for past and future physical pain and suffering and $6 million for past and future mental anguish.
The jury also awarded him an additional $5 million for past and future enjoyment of life, $2 million for disability and $3.5 million or scarring and disfigurement.
Clayton said such workplace injuries are "the price we pay in Louisiana" to have so many residents employed by the chemical sector, which he said is "not paying attention to safety."