MehaffyWeber Sticks One-Two Punch With Multiple Caterpillar Wins


Shareholder Brad Howell is pleased to announce two recent successes on behalf of MehaffyWeber client Caterpillar.

Texas Federal Court Summary Judgment Affirmed By Fifth Circuit

The Fifth Circuit recently affirmed a summary judgment, which was entered in favor of Caterpillar by Judge Marcia Crone in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.  The product liability case was filed against Caterpillar and Dragon Products, LLC (“Dragon”) after a fire occurred on July 12, 2016 at the St. Lucia Well Site in Mentone, Loving County, Texas (“St. Lucia Well Site”).   Baker Hughes Incorporated (“Baker Hughes”) contracted with XTO Energy, Inc. to perform fracking operations at the St. Lucia Well Site.  Prior to the commencement of this job, Baker Hughes purchased frac pumping units from Dragon, which were powered by Caterpillar 3512C diesel engines.  Baker Hughes claimed that the fire was caused by one of the Caterpillar 3512C diesel engines.

Baker Hughes subsequently filed a claim with AIG Europe, Ltd. (“AIG Europe”), the insurer of the equipment. In turn, AIG Europe filed a subrogation lawsuit on July 12, 2017 against Caterpillar and Dragon, seeking damages in excess of $15,000,000.00 for payments allegedly made to Baker Hughes.  AIG Europe determined that sixteen frac rigs were completely destroyed and declared them to be a total loss. Plaintiff alleged theories of design defect, manufacturing defect, negligence, and breach of contract, quasi-contract, and/or implied warranty of merchantability.

Due, in part, to the absence of evidence about a product defect, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Caterpillar and Dragon. On November 4, 2020, the Fifth Circuit unanimously affirmed summary judgment for Caterpillar. The decision, No. 19-40934; AIG Europe Ltd. v. Caterpillar Inc. and Dragon Products, LLC; In the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, was authored by Edith Jones, Catharina Haynes, and James Ho.

Wrongful Death Summary Judgment in Harris County, Texas

Just last week, the 151st Harris County District Court entered summary judgment in favor of Caterpillar in a wrongful death products liability lawsuit. The decedent, a member of a road construction crew, was fatally injured while working on a piece of Caterpillar equipment. The Plaintiff sued Caterpillar, as well as the decedent’s employer, alleging theories of design defect, marketing defect, manufacturing defect, negligence, negligence per se, gross negligence, and breach of express and implied warranties. Plaintiff demanded damages in excess of $1 million. Caterpillar generally denied Plaintiff’s claims and asserted several legal defenses, including the Texas statute of repose. After the parties conducted discovery, MehaffyWeber filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing all of the Plaintiff’s claims were time-barred, pursuant to Section 16.012 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The Court agreed and entered judgment in favor of Caterpillar on November 9.

Texas Business Litigation Lawyers

MehaffyWeber was founded in 1946 as a litigation firm. Our trial lawyers practice in state and federal courts throughout Texas and other states, and our firm functions as regional counsel for several clients. Recognized by Chambers USA in the Commercial Litigation practice area, our firm has actively handled commercial claims for over 70 years, and our trial lawyers have both the experience and resources to meet the complex litigation needs of large national and multi-national corporations, as well as those of small to mid-sized companies and individuals, from pre-litigation through appeal.