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Thompson Coe Obtains Victory in Products Liability Case in International Court of Arbitration After 11 Days of Trial

May 9, 2018

Thompson, Coe, Cousins, & Irons, LLP recently obtained an Arbitration victory prosecuting a cross-claim in the International Court of Arbitration in Singapore based on a defective product. The Hartford retained the services of Thompson Coe to defend Fremak Industries, Inc., a steel distributor based in New York, with respect to a products liability lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Houston, against Plaintiff, Joy Pipe USA, LP.

Plaintiff contended the steel couplings it purchased from Fremak were defective and resulted in two catastrophic oil well failures in Alberta, Canada.  Fremak promptly cross-claimed the manufacturer, ISMT Limited, for manufacturing the defective product.  The product was supposed to be manufactured to withstand intense deep earth drilling heat and friction, but turned out to be coat-hanger strength.  Fremak claimed that it did not handle or otherwise alter ISMT’s product, and therefore, if the product was defective, it was a manufacturing defect.  The trial court stayed Fremak’s cross-claims and referred them to arbitration before the International Court of Arbitration in Singapore.

At the trial before U.S. Judge David Hittner, Joy Pipe USA, LP won a  $2.6 million verdict against ISMT.  Fremak prevailed on a counterclaim against Joy Pipe USA, LP for $667,112.17 plus attorney’s fees, based upon Joy Pipe holding back payment from Fremak based on other unrelated orders of steel coupling stock.  Thompson Coe Houston partner, Gary Pate, tried Fremak’s cross-claims against ISMT before the International Court of Arbitration for 11 days of trial.  During the trial, the production manager of ISMT admitted that he lied when he tried to tell the jury that ISMT has a seamless flowing conveyor belt from door to door of the production plant and so the grade of the steel could not have been mixed up and “no human hands” are involved in the movement of product.  Another witness for ISMT was caught lying when he tried to convince the jury that the failed steel did not have ISMT’s stenciling marks still on the failed product.  After deliberating for over a year, the International Court of Arbitration  returned a Final Award in favor of Fremak on its cross claims in the amount of $3,435,129.74.  With the counterclaim against the Plaintiff, Gary Pate and his team won $4,181,251.91.

The Hartford was represented by Gary Pate, with assistance from Marilyn Cayce and Letty Aguilar in discovery and technical briefing, which were both instrumental for the win.