CSB Photo

U.S. Chemical Safety Board photo

A trial date has been set to hear a lawsuit filed against an oil and gas well contractor as a result of a 2018 well fire and explosion near Quinton.

Attorneys presented their opening statements on the second day of the consolidated trial against National Oilwell Varco and their involvement in the 2018 fire and explosion in Quinton.

Cody Risk and Josh Ray were two of the five men killed in the January 2018 fire and explosion at the Pryor Trust Well near Quinton. Attorneys for the families of the two men said in their opening statements Tuesday in Pittsburg County District Court that NOV was responsible for the failed mud program leading to the accident, while NOV's attorneys said they have evidence proving otherwise.

Attorneys representing the families said NOV "refuses any responsibility for this incident" and that "both sides agree this case is extremely important."

After the jury was asked to find justice for the families, attorneys showed jurors a photo of 26-year-old single father Cody Risk, of Wellington, Colorado, before introducing his three children.

Attorneys showed photos of 35-year-old Josh Ray, of Fort Worth, Texas, and his family before telling the jury that his daughter counted down the days her father would be returning home from work — with the number being two on the day of the incident.

A brief rundown of what the jury could expect in the trial, and a glimpse of the evidence was then showed to the jury.

Attorneys claimed NOV was primarily responsible for the death of the five men due to a failure of the company’s mud program and lack of on-site supervision of the program from a NOV employee that lived on site.

NOV's attorneys refuted the claims, saying that the well operator Red Mountain was to blame and that the evidence will prove it.

Defense attorneys then showed jurors an inverted pyramid depicting a chain of command among companies involved — with Red Mountain on top next to IOG Capital and Crescent Consulting with Patterson Drilling in the middle and NOV and other service providers on the bottom.

Attorneys said IOG invested 80% of the money into the drilling of four wells operated by Red Mountain, which they claimed "cut corners" on the incident well due to the first well being over budget and over time.

NOV attorneys also said the company's employee on site at the time of the incident, the mud engineer, had no responsibilities at the time the fire and explosion occurred.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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