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Texas Supreme Court Protects Defendant

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that a jury cannot award damages to the family of a man killed by an employee leaving work after his employer had worked him to exhaustion. A trial court jury had awarded damages to the Escoto family after an employee leaving Nabors Drilling, U.S.A. veered across the centerline and killed Roberto Escoto.

The jury found that the incident was caused by the fatigue of Ambriz, who had just finished a 12-hour graveyard shift for Nabors Drilling. The evidence showed that the crew had worked hard. The Supreme Court ruled last month in Nabors Drilling U.S.A., Inc. v. Escoto that the employer had no duty “as a matter of law” to Texans who drive the public roadways. Distinguishing a prior holding for the victim’s family when the employer sent home an intoxicated worker, the Supreme Court ruled that the employer did not have sufficient knowledge of Ambriz’ condition and did not “affirmatively exercise control over him.”

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