Articles Posted in Offshore Accidents

oil_well_head_surrounding-686x1024The rugged world of oil well labor often serves as a crucible of challenges, where hard work meets unforeseen perils. Within this demanding landscape, a legal saga unfolds, revealing the harrowing tale of two injured workers and the intricate journey through a labyrinthine appeals process. Their journey from the fiery depths of an explosion to the halls of justice sheds light on the complexities that can arise even after a jury’s verdict, providing a stark reminder of the importance of legal expertise in navigating this tumultuous terrain.

AIX Energy Inc. owned and operated an oil well in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. It performed a frac job and hired Republic Well Testing as a contractor to measure the oil well’s flowback. Republic installed a flowback tank. AIX decided to try to set a “packer” to produce through smaller tubing. AIX hired Jeremy Shepard and Michael Jackson as toolpushers and floor hands. While attempting to set the “packer,” the crew ran into issues. In the course of the work, there was an explosion. Jackson and Shepard were standing near the well. They were knocked over and seriously burned. 

Jackson, Shepard, and their respective wives filed a personal injury lawsuit against AIX, Republic, and others. At trial, the jury found AIX and various other defendants were negligent. The jury allocated AIX 97.5% of the fault. The jury awarded Shepard and Jackson $22.45 million in damages. AIX appealed.

pearl_harbor_hawaii_small-1024x821Losing a loved one is an unimaginable tragedy, and while financial compensation cannot fill the void left by their absence, it can provide support during challenging times. The following case involves the tragic situation of parents whose seaman son died. Although the deceased seaman’s father tried to recover damages from his son’s death, he ultimately proved unsuccessful. 

James Swafford was killed while aboard the M/V Pintail on the Mississippi River. The ship’s owner, Magnolia Fleet, and its operator, River Construction, Inc., filed a lawsuit. All claimants against Magnolia Fleet and River Construction were settled and dismissed except those of Swafford’s father. 

Swafford’s father claimed Magnolia Fleet and River Construction were liable for negligence under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness under general maritime law. Swafford’s father wanted to recover damages based on his son’s alleged pain and suffering before his death, loss of future earnings, loss of consortium, and other punitive and monetary damages. 

vessels_beach_brazil_pier-1024x768Suffering an on-the-job injury is a challenging experience that involves physical recovery and navigating the complexities of the worker’s compensation system. Determining when and how to return to work can be daunting in such situations. The questions surrounding medical examinations and the responsibility of companies to provide additional medical advice or inspections when an employee is injured are examined in the following case.

A longshore foreman, Alexander Scott, injured his hip and lower back when he was hit from behind by a forklift at work. His employer, Port America, set him up with Dr. Steiner, a Physician, to review his injuries. Dr. Steiner told Scott that he reached maximum medical improvement, did not need additional treatment, and was physically fine to continue working. However, Scott was uncomfortable returning to work because he insisted he was still in pain. 

Opting not to return to work, Scott sought another doctor’s opinion, Dr. Bostick, who advised him against resuming his employment duties due to his condition. Scott revisited Dr. Steiner, but no additional treatment was provided as his complaints were deemed subjective. Dr. Bostick reiterated his recommendation that Scott abstain from work due to an altered gait, suggesting further physical therapy.

vessels_beach_brazil_pier-1024x768Within the intricate realm of maritime law, determining liability can be challenging, especially when it comes to assessing the responsibility of ship owners for open and obvious risks. Such complexities become particularly evident when adverse weather conditions come into play. In this context, we delve into the case of Robert dePerrodil, an oil field consultant, and his encounter with the M/V Thunderstar. 

As we explore the legal intricacies surrounding his injuries and subsequent compensation, we shed light on the duty of care owed by ship owners, the notion of open and obvious risks, and the calculation of damages. Join us as we unravel the multifaceted aspects of maritime liability and its impact on the lives of those involved.

Robert dePerrodil was an oil field consultant who worked for Petroleum Engineers, Inc. (“PEI”). PEI charted the M/V Thunderstar to transport dePerrodil from Venice, Louisana, to the offshore platform where he was to work as a consultant. Bozovic Marine, Inc. owned and operated the M/V Thunderstar. The captain of the boat was Captain Bozovic. 

vessel_twin_masted_ship-1024x683An injury can happen in the most unlikely of situations, and although it may seem minor at the moment, it can create lifelong physical ailments. When this unfortunate situation occurs, you deserve to be properly compensated, regardless of any pre-existing conditions you may have. The following lawsuit shows how an excellent attorney can assist you in doing so. 

Ricky Koch was working as a foreman for Economy Iron Works aboard the United States-owned vessel S.S. Altair. He was participating in a “walkthrough” to potentially submit a bid for his employer on areas of the vessel needing repair. During the walkthrough, the group encountered a stairwell. The chief engineer who was leading the tour flipped a light switch, but it only partially illuminated the stairwell. As Koch descended in the darkness, he missed a step and fell backward, hitting his head, neck, and shoulders on the stairs. Upon returning to his office that same day, he completed an accident report and was driven home by a colleague where his wife found him immobile on a recliner. 

Koch could not work after the incident, with severe pain in his knees, neck, and back. He ultimately saw an orthopedic surgeon who concluded the incident exacerbated his preexisting osteoarthritic conditions and caused the need for bilateral knee replacements. Koch also saw a neurosurgeon who opined he had herniated his C6-7 disc as a result of the incident and subsequently performed cervical spine surgery. However, after the surgery, he had complications, including carpal tunnel in his hands, which the neurosurgeon noted were associated with and worsened by Koch’s neck problems. Because of his injuries, Koch underwent a right total knee replacement and had one scheduled for the other knee once he was fully recovered. 

Accidents happen daily, and when they do, they can be overwhelming and stressful. If you’ve been in an accident and filed a claim for damages, but it gets dismissed due to the granting of a motion for summary judgment in favor of the defendants, you may feel like there’s no hope. However, this is not the end of the matter. The trial court’s decision can be appealed, and the appellate court will review the decision to ensure whether the motion was properly granted. The following lawsuit shows how the appeals process can alter a trial court’s decision.

Stephen Ledet and his young son were sailing on a 16-foot recreational boat (“Ledet vessel”) being operated by Stephen’s brother, Kent Ledet. They were sailing on the Intracoastal Waterway near Berwick, Louisiana. The M/V Miss Cissy (“Miss Cissy”), a 46.5-foot commercial vessel owned by Parker Drilling Offshore USA, LLC (“PDO”), was sailing on the waterway at the same time ahead of them. Its employee, Captain Richard Rowe (“Rowe”), operated it. 

Kent Ledet could see the ship approximately 200 yards away as the weather was sunny and clear. However, Miss Cissy was traveling much slower than the Ledet’s vessel. The Ledet’s vessel eventually caught up to Miss Cissy’s rear. Miss Cissy then suddenly accelerated its engine and created large swells and wakes. Kent Ledet was unable to avoid the large wakes. The boat tossed and slammed against the water, and the whole family sustained alleged physical and mental injuries. 

boat_baltimore_fire_boat-1024x647Juries are one of the most important foundations in our legal system. Their role is to determine the truth behind the sometimes confusing legal language and provide justice. Juries rely on the information given to them by lawyers in the form of Jury Questions. However, when an alleged ambiguous term appears in the questionnaire, the court must determine if that specific word tainted the jury’s verdict. 

Richard Bosarge filed a lawsuit against his employer Cheramie Marine to recover damages from injuries sustained on a voyage when using one of Cherami Marine’s utility vessels. Borsarge had applied to work at Cheramie Marine, and as part of the pre-employment physical, he was asked if he had any prior back pain or injury. Borsarge told Marine he did not, concealing that he had back pain, and sought medical care. While on board one of Marine’s vessels in July 2014, Bosarge claimed the captain encountered “high waves,” Bosarge was injured when the captain decided to go through them. 

At trial, Cheramie Marine brought evidence that the waves were not, in fact, “violent,” and Bosarge’s pain was not from falling but from being seasick. Marine also brought in a medical expert who testified Bosarge’s pre-injury MRI scan looked worse than the post-injury MRI scan. The jury concluded they did not think Bosarge suffered an accident on July 18, 2014, and he did conceal material medical facts during the pre-employment medical examination and interview process. The trial court agreed with the jury’s findings. 

maritime_ship_daymark_65533-1024x768Activities on the water carry inherent risks. If you are injured while on the water, laws of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction generally rule. There are also allowances to invoke admiralty jurisdiction for injuries on land. To do so, one must satisfy conditions of both location and connection with maritime activity. But what happens if you are injured on a boat on land? Can you file a lawsuit with maritime claims? The following lawsuit out of Manchac, Louisiana, helps answer this question in the context of a prescription argument. 

Eddy Welch filed a lawsuit in October of 2013 against Jefferson Daniels to recover damages from bodily injuries he sustained from being a guest passenger on Daniel’s boat. While Welch attempted to come down from the boat’s upper level, a piece of steel rail caught his arm, and he sustained injuries. Welch claimed the injury was from a defect that posed an unreasonable and foreseeable risk of harm.

Procedural jostling caused Welch’s lawsuit to be transferred to another parish. Welch subsequently filed his amended petition with the new trial court, stating the incident falls under admiralty jurisdiction. Daniels then filed a motion for summary judgment and exception of prescription set forth under La. C.C. art. 3492. 

grinding_maintenance_labor_work_1-680x1024A disabling workplace injury can be a nightmare for an employee who suffers physical pain, mental side effects, loss of income, and the uncertainty of litigation. And when large sums of money are involved, an employer will want to fight tooth and nail to avoid liability. This can be particularly distressing when an employee wins at trial only to find the decision has been appealed. 

However, there is hope. Unless there has been a blatant error or abuse of discretion, a court of appeal will not want to overturn a factual conclusion or damage award from the trial court. Generally, that means an appeal will center around a question of law. See, e.g., Lasha v. Olin.

Sometimes the legal question is whether an injured worker qualifies for relief under a law. For example, an employee seeking coverage under the Jones Act must be classified as a seaman. To be one, your duties must “contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishments of its mission.” Determining who is a seaman under the Jones Act is a hotly contested issue, as seen in the case below. 

boat_rowing_boat_blue-1024x746Hydraulic steering is part of modern-day recreational vessels. When a boat’s hydraulic steering fails, what party bears liability? The owner, driver, or manufacturer? In the following case, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal was asked to determine liability and proper damages when a boat’s hydraulic steering system failed.

On May 7, 2005, a boat owned by Glen Vamvoras and operated by his son Daniel Vamvoras was traveling in Lake Charles when its steering failed. As a result, the boat spun wildly, throwing its passenger overboard. The passenger, Derek Hebert, was then struck by the boat’s propeller and tragically died. 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (“Wildlife & Fisheries”) investigated the accident. It determined that the pre-owned boat purchased by defendant Glen Vamvoras lost its steering due to a hydraulic fluid leak on the boat’s steering system’s hydraulic lines at the hose/nut of the coupling assembly. Teleflex was the manufacturer and supplier of the boat’s hydraulic steering system, but the original Teleflex hoses of this vessel had been replaced by persons unknown with a non-Teleflex hydraulic hose. 

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