A Harris County jury has found that regulatory violations and negligence in the construction of a 1.2 million square foot facility used to manufacture oilfield pipe directly led to the flooding of homes in the community of Van Vleck, Texas, during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.
Tenaris Bay City Inc, which owns and operates the facility, is now liable for the property damage and displacement of the families. Fluor Engineering, the multinational engineering firm that designed the project, was also found liable.
The litigation filed in December 2018 alleged that Tenaris violated the Texas Water Code when building the facility in Van Vleck, located southwest of Houston in Matagorda County.
According to the lawsuit, Tenaris “divert[ed] and impound[ed] the natural flow of water, without legal excuse, authorization, or permit, in a manner that caused water to overflow and damage Plaintiffs’ properties.”
Jurors heard evidence that, prior to the construction of the Tenaris facility, the plaintiffs’ homes never flooded during the course of more than 100 tropical storms and hurricanes that passed through the region in the last century. Lawyers for Tenaris and Fluor argued that Hurricane Harvey amounted to an “act of God” and that their clients should not be found liable, despite the fact that the Tenaris facility did not flood during the storm.
“Hurricane Harvey was a natural disaster, but the disaster for these homeowners was entirely man-made,” says Derek Potts, founder, and national managing partner of the Potts Law Firm in Houston. “This jury took the opportunity to make things right for these families, and has delivered a message that big business can’t ignore the environment, state law, and neighboring communities when building these massive projects.”
“We can’t give these people back their homes the way they were before. Many still are not living in them to this day. But we can provide justice, and we appreciate the service of this jury,” said Potts.
On Monday, the jury returns to hear evidence concerning the damages sustained by the plaintiffs and will be asked to make a finding as to the amount of compensation to be paid by Tenaris and Fluor.
About the Potts Law Firm:
The Potts Law Firm is a national trial law firm based in Houston, Texas which handles complex litigation cases nationwide involving personal and economic injuries sustained by individuals and businesses.