This verdict highlights the Grantham family’s heroic five-year fight to inform the public about systemic failures in the oilfield, which caused the death of their four-year old daughter, Katie. Louisiana law holds a company accountable if it negligently hires, negligently supervises or negligently entrusts a dangerous employee with a company truck. The Jury heard evidence of a company that hired an employee with a significant history of drug abuse and entrusted him with the keys to its 18-wheeler and company truck. Whistleblower testimony at trial confirmed that when profit margins were above 20%, safety rules were optional. The jury’s $409,000,000 verdict clearly stated that it is never acceptable for a company to place profits over safety in this community.
Before the verdict, Katie’s mother, Morgan Grantham, issued the following statement on behalf of the family:
"I’m issuing a statement at the conclusion of the trial but before the jury returns. This is intentional because what I’d like to say is not based upon what the jury decides. After Katie’s death, this community rallied around us on our behalf. Our community in North Louisiana and beyond, whether they knew us personally or not, helped our family pass Katie Bug’s Law which expanded drug testing at accident scenes. They rallied because they heard what happened to us and were angry with us. What we knew in private became public knowledge.
That is why my family and I have pushed forward with this civil lawsuit for over 5 years now ... so that what I knew in private could be talked about in public. I’ve waited longer for this day in court than I had with Katie.
This lawsuit is the result of another systemic issue identified after Katie died. Who is more responsible to keep us safe on the roads: a man with a known history of drug abuse and poor decisions or the people who hire him? The company he worked for and those he continues to work for have all failed to do their due diligence in making sure he is a safe driver, and we are safe traveling the roads with him. It’s a pattern across multiple oil companies to ignore the damage their addicted and unchecked employees can do. There were no consequences in the months leading up to our wreck when this driver displayed his reckless, careless, and dangerous decisions. The company simply didn’t care because it didn’t affect their wallet and that’s ultimately what they protect.
Our hope in this trial was to bring to light what usually stays in the dark. I pray we have done that. Katie’s death was a collective loss for all of us and my prayer is that this verdict may be a collective gain in helping keep us all safer.
Katie didn’t have to die, but she did at the hands of a driver and his employer who empowered him. And in her death, God has reminded me over and over and over again that He is good, He is sufficient, He has a purpose.
Praise be to God, the comforter of my broken heart."
Morris & Dewett is proud of the jury and the Grantham family for standing up to these unsafe practices and making our community safer.