Articles Posted in Maritime Personal Injury

Blake R. David of the maritime law firm Broussard & David, LLC obtained a jury verdict of $3,885,911.69 on behalf of a welder who sustained injuries when a vibrating hammer fell and struck him. The verdict, awarding general damages and pre-judgment interest was affirmed by the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal. On January 23, 2017, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied the application for writ of certiorari on general damages and seaman status – allowing the award to stand.

Plaintiff Ernest L. Guidry, was a welder for Defendant Tanner Services, LLC for approximately two years before he was seriously injured. The defendant was awarded a contract to build a bulkhead on Grand Isle. Tanner had both land division and maritime division crews. Plaintiff had previously worked for Tanner as a shop welder in Eunice, Louisiana, but was reassigned to the Tanner Marine Division before his injury. The project utilized three barges and two tugboats on which a floating mat and other supplies were housed. After the reassignment, Plaintiff spent his working time on the water performing preparatory work for the project, which included welding connectors, welding sheet piles, and cutting holes in the sheet piles. Plaintiff also attended job safety analysis meetings each morning on vessels with the marine division crew. Plaintiff spent approximately 90% of his time working on the water, particularly the floating mat. Plaintiff was severely injured when the vibrating hammer used to drive in piles fell and struck him. The strike caused Plaintiff to fall into the water and caused multiple injuries, including a crushed foot, a concussion, herniated discs, depression, anxiety, the amputation of four fingers, and total and permanent disability.

Defendant contended Plaintiff was not entitled to seaman status under the Jones Act, barring recovery under that statute for the serious and permanent injuries Plaintiff sustained. However, both the trial court and Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal disagreed. Both courts found Plaintiff contributed to the vessel’s function and accomplishment of the vessel’s mission and the plaintiff’s connection to the vessel fleet was substantial in duration and nature because of the amount of time he spent on the floating mat and the work he performed on the mat. These facts entitled Plaintiff to seaman status under the Jones Act, making that statute an avenue of recovery for the severe injuries Plaintiff received. Additionally, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal found that the award of general damages and prejudgment interest on the damages was not an abuse of discretion.

Last month, the Court of Appeal for Louisiana’s Third Circuit affirmed a jury verdict of $125,000.00 in compensatory damages and $23,000,000.00 in punitive damages in favor of the plaintiff, Ron Warren, in a maritime products liability case.

The incident at the heart of the case took place over ten years ago. On May 7, 2005, Derek Hebert was riding in a small boat operated by David Vamvoras. They were traveling from Mr. Vamvoras’ home to the Lake Charles Country Club via a former channel of the Calcasieu River. During the trip, the boat’s steering system completely shut down, ejecting Hebert from the craft and into the path of the propeller. The propeller struck Hebert approximately nineteen times, killing him almost instantly.  A subsequent investigation of the accident revealed that the loss of a relatively small amount of hydraulic fluid resulted in the craft’s total loss of steering.  As a result, Warren filed suit for wrongful death and survival damages against numerous parties, including the manufacturer and designer of the boat’s steering system, Teleflex.

Warren alleged that Teleflex failed to warn boat owners and passengers of the potentially catastrophic danger caused by losing just a small amount of hydraulic fluid. At trial, evidence showed that Teleflex performed tests in 1989 and 2004 which revealed that the loss of only a few teaspoons of hydraulic fluid would result in the total failure of the steering system. Plaintiff further showed Teleflex had received thousands of complaints regarding hydraulic fluid loss, but Teleflex believed the problem occurred infrequently enough that a more specific warning was not justified. The jury disagreed and awarded Warren $23,000,000.00 in punitive damages.

Several major oil companies, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell Oil, were recently named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Gretna, La.  Hiemie Payne filed suit in the 24th Judicial District Court, alleging failure to inform the plaintiff of danger, failure to mark an area as dangerous, and overall negligence and carelessness.

The complaint states that Payne was an employee of Commercial Pipeline Services for three years during the 1980s.  During that time, he fulfilled a number of duties for the named companies, and was allegedly exposed to dangerously high levels of radioactive scale from products manufactured by the defendants.  Also, Payne claims that he was further injured due to the exposure to radiation in the form of aerosolized dust.

Suits of this nature pose a unique challenge, as plaintiffs must prove specifically which defendant caused him injury at what time in order to get a satisfactory verdict.  It is made that much more difficult that it took place three decades ago. The attorneys at Broussard & David have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle cases of this nature and will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of the fault of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard & David to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

Anthony Buffinet was aboard the Cry Baby, the fishing vessel Cry Baby, when it was struck by another vessel, according to the suit filed by Buffinet on March 29 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Purportedly, on March 25, 2013, the Cry Baby, owned and operated by Buffinet, was moored at dock in Leeville when it was struck by the DMO Resolve, owned and operated by Dale Martin Offshore LLC.  Buffinet’s suit names Dale Martin Offshore LLC as the defendant, asserting that the fault of the matter is their’s as they failed to maintain proper course and speed, failed to take preventative measures in averting the collision, and negligently operated their vessel.

In addition to damaging the Cry Baby, Buffinet himself was allegedly injured to such a degree that he has been unable to perform his usual duties and has been rendered disabled.  Additionally, he has suffered financial loss and mental pain.

Sometimes, it is the smallest things that leave the largest impact.  On or about March 14, 2014, Brent Little was an employee of Halliburton Energy Services Inc. and serving on the Liftboat Vanessa in the Gulf of Mexico.  It was at this time that a prank was allegedly played on Little.  John Barrow, a fellow crewman, allegedly slipped red tracer dye into Little’s boot.  According to reports, Little wore the tampered boot for 14 hours that day and, upon removing the boots, heard laughter and noticed pink footprints on the floor.  The die stained Little’s foot for three weeks and it was at this time that Little was informed that red tracer dye was a carcinogen.

Flash forward more than a year to May 16, 2015, when Little was involved in an automobile accident, the fallout of which required him to take a CT scan.  According to Little, the scan revealed he had thyroid cancer, forcing him to undergo a thyroidectomy and the removal of lymph nodes.

Little filed suit on March 14 of this year in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Halliburton and John Barrow, citing negligence.  After the initial incident, Halliburton launched an investigation and found John Barrow responsible for the prank.  One such reason for Little suing Halliburton in addition to Barrow is likely that the jar of red tracer dye in question was under the care and custody of Halliburton, yet it was stored in the crew’s living quarters and had no label or warning signs that identified it as hazardous.

After allegedly suffering a work injury, Lloyd Willis, an employee of United Fire & Safety, filed a lawsuit against Woods Group PSN Inc., Energy XXI USA Inc., and JNET LLC in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on February 16, citing negligence and failure of obligations.

According to the suit, on or about June 14, 2015, Willis was being transferred from a platform to the JNET vessel via a personnel basket attached to a crane.  JNET is owned by Energy XXI and was located in South Timbalier Block 26A in the Gulf of Mexico.  Willis alleges the basket struck the vessel with such force as to cause injury, and that the named defendants acted in a negligent manner when they failed to observe safety measures, failed to exercise reasonable care, and failed to provide proper tools and a safe work environment.

As a result of the blow, Willis allegedly suffered a possible ruptured disk, nerve damage, injuries to his bones, muscle joints, and organs, as well as general body trauma and resultant medical expenses.

A project supervisor is suing multiple companies for injuries allegedly sustained on a barge-loading job.

Dale E. Loveall Jr., individually and on behalf of his minor child, Sadie Loveall, and Robin Loveall, filed suit January 28 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against multiple defendants.  Nordic Underwater Services Inc., AMI Consulting Engineers P.A. Inc., ADM Grain River System Inc., and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. are alleged to have negligently caused Loveall Jr.’s injuries.

The complaint states that the Loveall Jr. was hired by the defendants on or about February 18, 2015 to fix the pilings of the ADM Dock in Destrahan on the Mississippi River.  It is further asserted that Loveall Jr. was appointed project supervisor and was part of the crew of the American 12, a vessel owned by ADM or ADMC and provided by Nordic and/or AMI.  One of the tasks was required for the project was the transport of items from the American 12 to a barge.  According to the suit, the barge did not have a crane which required the crew, including the plaintiff, to lift all equipment, including several thousand pounds of cement bags, out of the American 12, above their heads, and onto the barge.

Two men’s routine fishing trip was literally and figuratively upheaved when another marine vessel’s high rate of speed resulted in the capsizing of their boat, allegedly leaving the two men with various injuries.

Benjamin Lee Hines, Sr., and Andreas Damone Vitto sued Southern States Offshore Inc. on January 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana., alleging negligence and personal injury liability.

According to the suit, the two men were fishing out of a recreational vessel around Maxie’s Grocery Store near Intercostal City in Vermillion Parish on September 27, 2014.  At a certain time that day, Southern States Offshore’s vessel, the Southern Belle, entered that waterway at an alleged high rate of speed.  The suit states that the rate was much too fast for prevailing conditions that day, and caused an intense wake.  It is this wake which allegedly capsized the boat Hines and Vitto were fishing out of, knocking both men into the water.

Clint A. Coffey filed a lawsuit on December 1 against Marquette Transportation, citing violations of the Jones Act and negligence in maintaining safe working conditions.  The Jones Act is set of maritime laws enacted in 1920 governing seaman’s compensation when injured.

According to the suit, Coffey was serving as a senior deckhand aboard the Kelly Rae Erickson under the employ of Marquette Transportation at the time of the purported incident.  On February 19, as Coffey attempted to traverse from one vessel to another, he slipped on the icy deck.  Coffey allegedly suffered severe and permanent injuries to his left shoulder, back, and other areas, leaving him in a state of disability.

The suit seeks punitive and compensatory damages to be determined at trial, as well as medical expenses.  The case will be heard in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

A pilot’s wife has accused several companies of performing faulty maintenance on the helicopter her husband was flying when it suffered catastrophic engine failure, which led to his death.

Colleen Hicks, of Oklahoma, individually, on behalf of her minor children, and as representative of her husband, Brandon Seth Ricks, filed suit on December 10 against Cadorath Aerospace LaFayette LLC, H&H Turbine Services LLC and Rotorcraft Leasing Co. LLC, claiming negligence that resulted in Brandon Ricks’s death.

The complaint states that Brandon Ricks, age 40, was piloting a Model 206 L-1 helicopter from Griffin Memorial Airport in Mississippi to aid in a controlled burn initiated by the U.S. Forest Service on March 30.  At a point during the flight, engine failed, resulting in a crash that killed both Ricks and the passenger.  According to the suit, Cadorath and the other defendants performed negligent maintenance on the craft from 2009 to 2014 which caused the engine failure in question.

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