Robert Varela (plaintiff) was injured while employed by Hydrocarbon Construction Company (Hydrocarbon) on a fluid-catalytic-cracking unit. The unit was owned by American Petrofina Company of Texas (Petrofina) (defendant). Varela filed a workers’ compensation claim with Hydrocarbon. Varela settled his claim with Hydrocarbon’s insurer. Varela sued Petrofina for negligence. At trial, the jury found that Varela suffered damages of $606,800. The jury apportioned causal negligence among the parties, assigning Varela 15 percent, Hydrocarbon 42 percent, and Petrofina 43 percent. Because Varela had already settled his claim with Hydrocarbon, the trial court awarded Varela only the proportion of damages attributable to Petrofina, or 43 percent. Varela appealed, and the appeals court affirmed. Varela appealed the ruling of the appeals court.