Dixie Pipeline

Photo of Benny Agosto

On Thursday, February 10, 2011, The First Court of Appeals in Houston handed down a decision that affirmed a previous ruling won by our firm, denying the defendants in a pipeline explosion case the opportunity for a rehearing, and simultaneously providing clear direction in future choice of law debates.
The case, Enterprise Products Partners, L.P. and Dixie Pipeline Co. v. Mitchell, et al, involved an explosion in a liquid propane pipeline. The pipeline, which spans 35,000 miles through seven states, ruptured in a rural area outside of Jackson, Mississippi. The leak in the pipeline released over 430,000 gallons of propane into the air, turning it into a highly flammable gas cloud that ignited over a neighborhood near the site of the rupture. When the cloud ignited, the resulting explosion killed two people, injured seven more, and started a fire that burned four homes, seventy acres of farmland, and evacuated sixty families. The families of those who lost loved ones and property filed suit in Harris County against Enterprise Products and Dixie Pipeline.
The issue on appeal began at the trial level, where the defendants' lawyers asked the court to apply Mississippi damages law to the case, because the plaintiffs were Mississippi residents, and the explosion occurred there. Having the court apply Mississippi law would benefit the defendants greatly because it would drastically limit the amount payable to the plaintiffs, since the laws of Mississippi cap non-economic damages at $1 million. The court sided with the plaintiffs, and ruled that Texas law would apply.
The defendants filed an interlocutory appeal in the First Court of Appeals, which ruled last August that Texas law would govern the case. The defendants then filed a motion for en banc reconsideration of that ruling, which was denied Thursday. In explaining why defendants' most recent motion was denied, the court pointed to several key factors.
First, the court acknowledged that while the plaintiffs are residents of Mississippi, and the state of Mississippi has an interest in providing for the adequate compensation of injured citizens, the Mississippi damages cap would likely prevent that from happening in this case. Second, the court explained that the defendant companies in this suit have their principle places of business in Texas, and the state of Texas has an interest in protecting defendants who are residents. Third, the injury causing conduct (here, the control and operation of the pipeline) occurred at a central location in Texas. Finally, both parties agreed that Texas law would govern all other issues in the case, and as the court explained, Texas damages laws are at the very least capable of ensuring the plaintiffs compensation equal to that available under Mississippi law.
I will be providing updates as our firm tries to help the victims of this tragedy and their families begin to move on, so please check back.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories