Houston lawyer Mark T. Murray credits a nearly $11 million win in a gut-wrenching personal-injury suit to the strength of his client’s wife, Megan. Her husband, Brady Foret, who worked as a derrick man for an energy company, suffered multiple injuries in 2009 after a rig mast collapsed and he fell eight floors.
On Aug. 26, Harris County 80th District Judge Larry Weiman signed a judgment ordering Stewart & Stevenson, the company that had refurbished the rig mast before it collapsed, to pay Foret $10,817,459: $10,702,459 in medical expenses, damages for his injuries, past and future lost earnings, and past and future physical pain and mental anguish, plus $115,000 in interest.
Murray says he believes testimony by Foret’s wife about Brady’s physical and cognitive injuries helped persuade jurors to return the Aug. 4 plaintiff’s verdict in Brady Foret v. Stewart & Stevenson, et al. “It was devastating to hear her explain what had happened. When she cried, the jury cried,” says Murray, a partner in Houston’s Stevenson & Murray.
Murray says he spent days visiting with the Forets and their infant at their home in Gheens, La., so he could get to know them and help a jury understand what they suffered. Brady and Megan had been engaged on Jan. 11, 2009, when he fell from the 112-foot-high rig mast after it collapsed, Murray says. Foret sustained orthopedic and closed-head injuries, which cause him to process information more slowly. Foret also has short-term memory loss. Megan “was really impressive. She stuck with him,” Murray says.
In his fourth amended petition filed on Aug. 15, Foret sued Stewart & Stevenson as well as another company, which he later nonsuited. Foret alleged that despite Stewart & Stevenson’s refurbishing, inspection and certification, the rig mast was missing safety pins and retainer pins when it collapsed. He alleged Stewart & Stevenson was negligent and sought $10 million in damages. [See the fourth amended petition.]
In its second amended answer filed on July 8, Houston-based Stewart & Stevenson disputed “the nature and the extent of” Foret’s injuries and alleged that it was not responsible for damages because Foret’s negligence or the negligence of third parties not under its control caused Foret’s injuries.
Kent M. Adams, managing partner of the Houston office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith who represents Stewart & Stevenson, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Murray says he expected the type of head injury Foret suffered to create challenges at trial, which began July 25. Murray and his partner John Stevenson called Brady Foret to the stand. And since there are no images of wounds to show jurors when there is a closed-head injury, Murray had to rely on testimony of psychological experts and neurological findings.
“I think what was important to the jury is that they believed that [Foret] was having problems. The defense argued pretty hard that they didn’t think he had these deficits,” Murray says. [See the jury charge and the judgment.]
For Murray, the judgment represents the first time he has won more than six figures for a client. He takes pride in the trial’s outcome in Harris County — not noted for its generosity to personal-injury plaintiffs, Murray says. “We got lucky.”
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