June 9, 2015
After a two week jury trial, and three hours of deliberations, a six member St. Johns County jury found Florida Rock & Tank Lines, Inc. to be primarily at fault for the fuel spill, fire and eventual explosion that destroyed The 5th Wheel BP gas station owned by Coomes Oil & Supply, Inc., and neighboring businesses on August 19, 2011. The jury awarded Derrevere Hawkes Black & Cozad’s client Coomes Oil & Supply, Inc. $800,000 in damages.
Florida Rock & Tank Lines, Inc., sued Coomes Oil and J.B. Coomes to recover the loss of its gasoline tanker truck that was destroyed after in the fire and explosion that ensued. Coomes Oil and J.B. Coomes countersued Florida Rock & Tank Lines, Inc., for the fair market value of the gas station and costs incurred for debris removal and environmental clean-up.
Jon D. Derrevere argued, and the jury conclusively found, that the Florida Rock driver, David Cowles, failed to comply with mandatory safety regulations by parking too close to the above ground storage tanks, failing to verify the available safe fill capacity of the tanks, and not remaining within close proximity to the shut off valves while unloading fuel. The jury found that J.B. Coomes was not personally negligent for the explosion. After being personally exonerated, J.B. Coomes was very satisfied with the verdict.
A clip from the Coomes Oil’s closing argument can be found on the link below.