An Oklahoma trucking company has settled a wrongful death lawsuit following a 2021 worksite explosion that took the life of Joey Bonds.
In Sept. 2021, Minco, Okla.-based hazmat company Firestone Trucking Inc. hired Bonds to repair a leak in a tanker trailer. While performing the repairs, the trailer exploded, instantly killing Bonds.
According to a report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the trailer had carried 150 gallons of “oil/gas production water” the day prior to the repair. In the report, the company admitted to not cleaning the trailer before instructing Bonds to repair it.
Following the incident, OSHA cited Firestone Trucking for three “serious” violations, including not notifying a contractor of fire hazards found in equipment being repaired and not cleaning or ventilating the area where work was being done. The agency also fined the company $10,151.
The original petition, filed in the Grady County District Court in February 2022, claimed the trucking company gave Bonds “affirmative representations about the trailer’s readiness” before beginning his work.
The trucking company denied concealing the condition of the trailer from Bonds, saying the “condition was open and obvious” and suggested that Bonds, or any other experienced welder, should have been able to notice the flammable material in the truck.
The order approving the settlement was filed on Jan. 3. Details of the settlement are confidential and have been filed under seal by the court.
Prior to the settlement, Firestone and its insurer, Zurich American Insurance Co., had asked the court to seal multiple documents in the case. Among them, the original petition and details from the OSHA report. In their response, attorneys for Bonds called the motion an effort to ‘whitewash’ the public record, censor plaintiff’s pleadings and, in effect, ‘expunge’ defendant’s criminal actions.”
Arguments for the motion were scheduled to be heard in a Grady County court on Dec. 14. That hearing was stricken.
The family of the 40-year-old father of five hopes tragedies like this are avoided in the future. Bret Burns, one of the attorneys who represented Bonds in the suit, told Land Line that Bonds’ widow intends to pursue legislation that would “tighten safety issues related to hazardous safety placards on trucks hauling hazardous waste.”
“She believes these safety placards should be required and there should be some consequences to companies who chose to not use them,” Burns said in an email. LL