Court overrules judge in Coryell County hospital explosion dispute

Class Action

An appeals court in Waco has ruled that a district judge in Gatesville abused his discretion in rulings he made in a lawsuit related to the June 2018 explosion at the Coryell County Memorial Hospital.

In a five-page opinion written by 10th Court of Appeals Justice Rex Davis and released Wednesday evening, the three-judge court granted a writ of mandamus requested by AP Gulf States, the general contractor overseeing the hospital renovation and expansion project.

The court ruled that 52nd State District Judge Trent Farrell’s pretrial order in February requiring AP Gulf States’ insurance carrier to deposit $6.8 million into the court’s registry was “a clear and prejudicial error of law and an abuse of discretion” and ordered him to remedy the error within 21 days.

Tenth Court Chief Justice Tom Gray concurred in part and dissented in part. Gray noted that he agrees with the court’s judgment ordering Farrell to withdraw his February registry order but he disagreed with the order compelling him to rule on other pretrial motions with a prescribed time frame.

AP Gulf States took out a builder’s risk insurance policy with Zurich American Insurance Co. when the project began. In December, five months after the explosion that killed three workers and injured more than a dozen, AP Gulf States initiated an arbitration proceeding against the hospital seeking to recover funds it alleged it was owed from the project.

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