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Cost-Cutting Revealed in Refinery Explosion that Critically Burns Three
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Cost-Cutting Revealed in Refinery Explosion That Critically Burns Three

Doug Schad, a contractor working on a new Qualitech Steel Plant, went to find out why the refinery’s final stage vessel wasn’t operating correctly when an explosion ripped through the pit where he was standing. He and two others were seriously burned. Our evidence showed corporate cost-cutting and lack of safeguards were responsible. A jury found the companies guilty of gross negligence, prompting the companies to settle before the jury could award damages.


Construction of the Qualitech Steel plant was almost finished. The next step was to run through a start-up to make sure everything was working as it should. It wasn’t. Designed to produce iron carbide from iron ore through a heating and cooling process, the refinery’s cooling vats located in a pit deep in the earth were not reducing temperatures enough. Doug Schad, director of Qualitech Operations and Construction, was checking on the vats when an explosion ripped through the pit, severely burning him and two other workers.

The Edwards firm’s investigation showed that corporate cost-cutting had altered the design of the cooling vats, causing them to malfunction. Further, the companies responsible for designing and building the plant – Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, and Honeywell, among others – failed to install computer interlocks, safety mechanisms and emergency shut- down systems that would have prevented the explosion.

Doug Schad’s injuries were substantial, his medical expenses enormous, his pain and suffering excruciating. The long-term quality of his life and that of his wife were forever altered. The verdict and settlement won by the Edwards’ Firm was enough to provide Doug and his wife with the resources they needed to live their lives as fully as possible. They did not have to live on taxpayer dollars. The companies responsible for his injuries were held responsible and made accountable.

Going up against big chemical and refining companies takes resources, years of experience and the confidence that comes from winning cases against them. Located in the energy-producing corridor of the Texas coast, the Edwards Firm has been representing injured chemical and oil and gas company workers for more than 20 years.

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  • I highly recommend this firm if you are in an accident, especially on a motorcycle. Thank you, Edwards Law Firm!

    - Allison H.
  • They were very helpful with what we had to do and setting up appointments for the doctor and therapist.

    - Claudia B.
  • The Edwards Law Firm has built its reputation on providing caring, yet aggressive advocacy for their clients.

    - Jeff G.

Recent Results

Successful Verdicts & Settlements
  • Refinery - Fell into Tank $11,500,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,842,546.09 | Attorney Fees: $3,500,000.00 | Expenses: $157,453.91

  • Premises Negligence $10,750,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $7,166,666.67 | Attorney Fees: $3,583,333.33 | Expenses: $0

  • 18 Wheeler $9,660,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,337,277.94 | Attorney Fees: $3,197,915.63 | Expenses: $124,806.43

  • 18 Wheeler $9,000,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $5,069,061.09 | Attorney Fees: $3,600,000.00 } Expenses: $330,938.91

  • Defective Truck $8,200,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,308,812.01 | Attorney Fees: $1,840,544.68 | Expenses: $50,643.31

  • Premises Liability $7,810,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Rape | Net to Client: $5,156,632.89 | Attorney Fees: $2,602,943.48 | Expenses: $50,423.63

  • Seat-belt/Rollover $7,535,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Brain Injury | Net to Client: $4,037,523.89 | Attorney Fees: $3,014,000.00 | Expenses: $483,476.11

  • 18 Wheeler $7,000,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death/Serious Injury | Net to Client: $4,094,098.23 | Attorney Fees: $2,800,000.00 | Expenses: $105,901.77

  • Seatback Failure $6,625,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $3,414,561.37 | Attorney Fees: $2,650,000.00 | Expenses: $560,438.63

  • Oilfield Accident $5,842,228.75 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $3,441,771.42 | Attorney Fees: $2,314,953.94 | Expenses: $85,703.38

  • Tire Defect/Seatbelt $5,820,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death/Head/Ortho | Net to Client: $2,917,287.51 | Attorney Fees: $2,328,000.00 | Expenses: $574,712.49

  • Products/Medical Malpractice $5,629,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Paraplegic | Net to Client: $2,987,859.17 | Attorney Fees: $2,251,600.00 | Expenses: $389,540.83

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Why Hire Our Firm?

  • Client-Focused

    For our firm, it is not about the money - we take profound joy in helping our clients get the recoveries they deserve.

  • Highly Qualified

    William R. Edwards & William R. Edwards III are Board Certified® by The Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

  • Advocates for Ethics

    We are leaders in advocating for ethical conduct by attorneys practicing in the field of personal injury.

  • Strong Case Results

    We are not afraid to go to trial & have recovered millions of dollars in recoveries for our clients.

  • Community-Focused

    We are committed to affecting real change both within our community and across the nation.

  • Experienced Team

    The Edwards Law Firm has been in practice and taking personal injury cases since 1962.

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