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Solutia, contractor awarded more than $4 million in lawsuit

By Sheryl Marsh · 340-2437

A Morgan County jury verdict in a lawsuit against Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. yielded more than $4 million for Solutia and Fluor Enterprises Inc., a maintenance contractor.

Attorney Jim Rebarchak of Mobile, who represented Solutia and Fluor, said the lawsuit stems from the 2001 accidental death of an employee at the plant who worked for Hubbard and Drake Contractors.

Records show that two tubes weighing 2,000 pounds fell on Wendell Kennedy in September 2001. Kennedy, 59, later died at Huntsville Hospital.

Rebarchak said Kennedy’s estate filed a claim against Solutia and Fluor, and the companies notified the insurance company, which supposedly covered them under a policy of Hubbard and Drake. He said Liberty Mutual refused to provide legal defense for Solutia and Fluor.

“They claimed that Fluor was not a licensed contractor,” Rebarchak said. “They went under the trade name Fluor Global Services and they were licensed under Fluor Enterprises Inc.”

The attorney said Fluor provided proof of insurance under Hubbard and Drake.

Rebarchak and Mobile attorney Ken Watson brought the litigation against Liberty Mutual and Hubbard and Drake in 2003. The attorney said the cases were severed and the case against Hubbard and Drake will be separate.

Rebarchak said trial of that case is dependent on the resolution of the recent judgment against Liberty Mutual.

In the case against the insurance company tried this month, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Solutia and Fluor. The court assessed these judgments for the companies: compensatory damages, $1.78 million and punitive damages, $2.5 million, records show.

Liberty Mutual has 42 days from the time of the judgment to appeal.

Attempts to reach Liberty Mutual were unsuccessful.

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