Von Phathong was seriously injured during work at a gas-drilling site. He was working as a roughneck on a drilling rig and realized he needed a piece of equipment, a crossover sub, to fit two pipes together and the one he had on the rig was not the right size. He asked for the correct crossover sub and the second highest-ranking supervisor provided a crossover sub with incorrect threads for the pipes, although Phathong didn't know it was incorrect. Phathong was told by the driller to hold the tongs, which screw the pipes together. The driller failed to connect a safety line to the pipe or secure the bottom of the pipe in anyway. When the driller turned on the top drive the pipe swung backwards resulting in Phathong's body becoming crushed between the drill pipe and tongs.
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Phathong suffered severe injuries to his back and spine. The jury awarded Phathong $4.1 million which included $1.5 million in punitive damages.