Jameson v. Liquid Controls Corp., 618 N.W.2d 637 (2000)

Richard Jameson was employed by Sandhill Oil Company, which delivered fuel by truck. Sandhill was owned by Richard’s father, Allan Jameson. The truck had a Blackmer fuel pump, and a Liquid Controls fuel meter. On July 16, 1995, Richard and Allan were trying to fix a problem with the fuel delivery system. Alan had loosened bolts on the fuel meter, and when they tried to pump fuel through the system, gas vapor escaped from where the bolts were loosened. The gas vapor ignited a fire, severely burning Richard over 65% of his face and body.

Richard and Sandhill filed a lawsuit against Blackmer and Liquid Controls under theories of negligence and strict liability. The defendants responded that the injuries were caused by Richard and Allan’s negligence. Before the jury made their decision, Blackmer settled with the plaintiffs, for a total of about $1.4 million. The remaining claims against Liquid Controls were submitted to the jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Richard in the amount of $5 million. Liquid Controls appealed.

The record did not contain the written settlement agreement between Blackmer and Richard, and it was unclear what amount was apportioned for which claims. However, the Supreme Court of Nebraska affirmed the district court’s jury instructions, and denial of a new trial. On appeal, the case was remanded back to the district court for a reduction in the judgment in light of Blackmer’s settlement.

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