Bankruptcy Judge Approves $52 Million Insurance Settlement for the Victims of the January 24, 2020 Watson Grinding and Manufacturing Explosion in Houston

Firm News

On January 24, 2023, Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur approved a $52 million insurance settlement in favor of the victims of the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing explosion.  The settlement was approved on the 3-year anniversary of the explosion which occurred on January 24, 2020 in the Gessner area of West Houston. Watson Grinding and Watson Valve filed for bankruptcy protection on February 6, 2020.  During the bankruptcy case, Porter Hedges represented the Official Committee of January 24 Claimants.   Following confirmation of the plan of liquidation, Porter Hedges has represented Ron Bankston as the Watson Grinding Liquidating Trustee.

Around 4:40 a.m. at the Watson facility, about 17 miles outside of downtown Houston, a 2,000-gallon propylene tank exploded, damaging 450 homes, some as far away as a half-mile. The incident also resulted in the loss of life for two workers and one neighbor.

In approving the settlement, Judge Isgur commented that “we should also recognize when lawyers go above and beyond the call of duty and represent their clients with the zealousness that is required, the integrity that is required, and accomplish a result that is in the best interest of the clients and shows the highest ideals of the profession.  When I look back to the first few hearings we had, and of course every lawyer wanted to get the best they could for their own client, everybody also realized that the way to do this was with community action and so there was an organized effort to pull everyone together in a way to maximize the recovery to the clients overall and that has proven to be very effective.  So the bankruptcy lawyers, the personal injury lawyers, the trustees, everyone that has worked on the case, I give my recognition to, my applause to, thank them for their work.”

The related cases are In re: Watson Grinding & Manufacturing Co. (Case No. 20-30967) and In re: Watson Valve Services, Inc. (Case No. 20-30968) in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division.

See here for the full order issued by Judge Isgur.