Gordon Hansmeier and Chris Wills Win Summary Judgment Sanctions Motion in North Dakota State Court (Williams County)

Gordon Hansmeier and Chris Wills won a summary judgment sanctions motion that they filed in North Dakota state court on behalf of Murex Petroleum Corporation (an oil and gas operator). The case involves a plaintiff (Robert Simmons) who was severely injured when a suspended pipe slipped through an elevator (or clamp) and struck him. At the time of the accident, Simmons was working on an oil well near Tioga, North Dakota that was operated by Murex.

Following the accident, one of the supervisors for WISCO, the company that the plaintiff was working for, asked the supervisor for Cudd, another company that was present and working on the well, whether he could inspect the elevator that the pipe slipped through. The Cudd supervisor refused to allow the elevator to be inspected. The elevator was lost for several years following the accident and was rediscovered while the case was pending.

Hansmeier and Wills argued that the elevator had been spoliated, or modified from its condition immediately after the accident. Following a day and a half evidentiary hearing, the district court agreed and, as a sanction for the spoliation, dismissed Cudd's cross-claim against Murex for defense, indemnification, and breach of contract. The case is currently pending. Cudd has filed a motion for reconsideration and advised that it intends to appeal the Court's order.

Simmons v. Cudd Pressure Control, Inc., No. 53-2014-CV-00665 (Williams County District Court)