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TXI ordered to pay $18.9 million to widow

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ERIC CORNELISON
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DALLAS - A Dallas jury awarded Waxahachie resident Amy Rutherford $18.9 million after a month long trial determined a Texas Instruments Incorporated plant in Midlothian was guilty of negligence and recklessness in her husband's , Gordon Rutherford, death.

The 34-year-old Rutherford was working for Circle 4M Welding in 2003 when a fire broke out causing an explosion at the Midlothian plant involving a pollution control device which contained hazardous and flammable material.

Three other welders were injured in the blast and resulting fire in which one of those welders was hospitalized.

Rutherford's attorney Michael Heygood said TXI had ignored the basic safety principles when they sent Rutherford and the other welders into a dangerous situation.

'TXI sent these people into an area without warning and without the proper equipment which might have saved Gordon's life,' said Heywood.

'TXI is sorry for this tragic accident,' TXI vice-president Ken Allen said in a statement.

'TXI takes workplace safety seriously and has won a number of awards for its overall safety record.'

TXI knew the risks in this area because of the plastic in the pollution scrubber had been plagued with problems before the accident, Heygood said.

During the trial a representative from the manufacturer of the plastic reportedly testified he had previously recommended TXI replace the plastic with stainless steel for several reasons which included the risk of overheating.

One of Amy Rutherford's attorneys, according to reports, hoped this verdict would save other lives and industrial plants would understand the need to hire experienced safety professionals.

TXI public relations representative Randy Jones and Ken Allen had not returned phone calls or messages left on their voicemail at the time of this publication.

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