maritime injuries

Maritime News BP Oil Spill Disaster Trial

Judge: BP contract shielded Halliburton in spill

By Cain Burdeau Associated Press / January 31, 2012

NEW ORLEANS—A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Halliburton can avoid paying most of the pollution claims that resulted from the catastrophic 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill because it was shielded in a contract with well-owner BP.

Still, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said that Halliburton is not exempt from paying punitive damages and civil penalties that arise from the April 20, 2010, blowout off the Louisiana coast. Those penalties could amount to billions of dollars.

The judge also said Halliburton's indemnity could be voided if the company is found to have defrauded BP. He did not rule on BP's allegations that Halliburton committed fraud by declaring the cement safe to use.

Houston-based Halliburton supplied cement for the ill-fated Macondo well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, and federal investigators have found that the cement failed to seal to the well properly. The cement job was one of several factors that investigators said contributed to the blowout that killed 11 workers and led to the release of more than 200 million gallons of oil.

In court filings, BP has accused Halliburton of hiding information about cement tests and defrauding BP by telling the company that the cement was safe to use. Halliburton has said it did not conceal information or commit fraud.

Both sides claimed victory on Tuesday.

BP touted Barbier's ruling as a "strong signal" that Transocean and Halliburton "would be held accountable."

"These two decisions should put an end to the attempts by Transocean and Halliburton to avoid their obligations," BP said. The company added that Halliburton "at a minimum" faced paying punitive damages and civil penalties for its role in the disaster.

BP also said it "never assumed" to get Transocean and Halliburton to pay for pollution-related damages.

Beverly Blohm Stafford, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said the company agreed with the ruling "to the extent that it requires BP to honor its contractual indemnity obligations."

Barbier's ruling came in advance of a Feb. 27 non-jury maritime-law trial in New Orleans to determine who was at fault for the blowout that led to the nation's largest offshore oil spill. Transocean, BP and Halliburton have been sparring over what caused the blowout.

Last week, BP asked U.S. Magistrate Sally Shushan to exclude trial testimony by a Halliburton employee who was working on the rig before the explosion and has been identified as a possible subject of a Justice Department criminal investigation of the disaster.

Jesse Gagliano, who worked on the well's cementing job, has been interviewed by a congressional committee and testified before a government panel probing the disaster. He initially invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to be questioned under oath for the litigation, but he recently waived that right and agreed to be questioned by civil attorneys next week.

BP suggests Gagliano's change of heart so close to the trial is designed to give Halliburton a strategic advantage. Halliburton counters that "unfounded speculation" about Gagliano's motives shouldn't preclude his testimony

Maritme lawyers of Free legal shield accepting maritme injury cases

What is Maritime Injury Law ?

What is the Maritime Injury LawMaritime injury and Accident Helpline

 Admiralty law or Maritime Injury law is a highly specialized area of the law that can generally be described as that area of the law having legal control over vessels (ships, boats, barges or any other structure) that navigate (move from place to place) over water.

The federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over claims on the high seas , Admiralty claims, and these Maritime claims are tried in the Federal Courts without a jury. The exceptions are personal injury cases which by a proposition known as the ”saving to suitors clause” can be brought, at the option of the injured person in a State court with a jury as would any personal injury lawsuit.

In the United States constitution we incorporated English Admiralty law in its entirety as the basis for United States Admiralty law. As ships move across water from country to country the world has found it best to make the Admiralty laws of each country consistent with one another.

This is done by agreeing to many international treaties on various legal issues. That having been said the United States probably has the most generous provisions to help those injuries governed by Admiralty law. London and New York have traditionally been the centers for world admiralty law.

Maritime injuries

The first and most important aspect to consider is the date of the injury. There is a three (3) year Statute of Limitation for all injuries on the seas or Admiralty cases which means if you do not sue the negligent party who injured you within three (3) years of the date of the injury you forever lose your right to file this law suit and all your legal rights.

An exception that hurts injured passengers says that a passenger carrier can put a provision in the passenger ticket requiring a six (6) month notice of injury provision of the injury claim and requiring law suit within one (1) year of the date of the injury. Every passenger ticket has this provision, and it is necessary to save your passenger ticket.

Jones Act and Seaman Injuries

These are personal injuries that happen to a crew member of a vessel. To be crew (a seaman) you must be attached to a vessel or fleet of vessels under the same ownership while performing approximately thirty (30) percent of your work, and that work must aid in the mission (job) of the vessel. The Courts have a broad definition aiding in the job of the vessel. (For example a ship’s dancer is crew, as is the person who comes to a docked vessel in navigable waters regularly to clean and then goes home)

If you are a Jones Act Seaman the law gives you special protection. You are, among other things, a “Ward of the Admiralty Court”. Your burden of proof at trial is small as you must prove negligence only greater than a scintilla (small amount) of evidence to recover for your injury. You have the right to seize the property of the vessel to protect your rights.

The ship owners have a classic technique to defeat Jones Act claims it is called “attack the plaintiff.” You and your lawyer must be prepared for this attack. Remember the defense lawyer earns his living by “attacking the Plaintiff.”

General Maritime Law Negligence and Un-seaworthiness

These actions are also available to the Jones Act seaman. the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence (more than 50% percent), and seaworthiness is a concept that requires the vessel owner to put his vessel in to a seaworthy (able to properly go to sea and fully perform the mission of the vessel) condition before the voyage, and if he fails to live up to that responsibility and that failure causes injury the owner is liable for that un-seaworthiness.

Extremely important is maintenance and cure which is part of general admiralty law and applies to all crew. If you are injured or fall ill during your course and scope of employment on a vessel; the vessel owner must pay you your living expenses (maintenance) and your medical expenses (cure) until you have reached what is called “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). Failure on the part of a seaman’s employer to supply maintenance and cure may subject the employer to severe penalties.

Passengers and others who board a vessel for business purposes.

The care owed to these injured people is “reasonable care under the circumstances.” At first look it is a standard quite similar to injuries that happen on land. The difference is that a ship and the sea can be inherently dangerous places, and require a much more specialized knowledge to determine what exactly were the circumstances and what would be reasonable care considering the danger.

Lawyers of the Sea and Admiralty, Cruise Ship Injuries

Call today for an Admiralty Maritime Lawyer,Attorney law Firm.  Admiralty is the law of the sea.Admiralty Lawyers concentrate on the law of the sea also known as Maritime law, Longshoremen and Injury at Sea.  Cruise ship Injuries are governed by this law

Admiralty and Maritime lawyers have experience in laws that presides over navigation and shipping, including waters; commerce; seamen; piracy; towing; wharves, piers, and docks; insurance; maritime liens; canals; and recreation. Admiralty  lawyers are knowledgeable in legal issues  that apply to vessel accidents on and off-shore are complex and encompass federal and state regulations, and may also be impacted by international treaties and conventions including:

* The Jones Act protects ill or injured "seamen who are in the service of the ship".

A seaman who suffers injury or illness in the performance of their job may be entitled to compensation for food, lodging, medical care and unearned wages.

* Individuals or passengers on a vessel are entitled to a certain standard of care. If the ship owners fail to exercise reasonable care for guests or visitors on the vessel, they may be held liable for negligence. Boat owners can also be held liable for injuries and death involving assaults, mechanical failures, piloting error and intoxication at sea.

Cruise Ship Injuries

 

  • Slip and fall accidents on wet or uneven surfaces, or due to cruise ship maneuvering
  • Water slide, wave pool and swimming pool accidents
  • Accidents on cruise line-approved excursions at ports of call
  • slippery floors and wet staircases
  • contagious diseases
  • Drowning
  • unruly passengers creating a dangerous situation
  • Cruise ship sexual assault or physical assault by crew members or other passengers
  • Contaminated food resulting in severe illness (i.e. norwalk virus infections, gastrointestinal infections, salmonella, etc.)
  • Medical negligence — People who are treated aboard a cruise liner may be put off at ports in other countries without adequate arrangements made for their care. The treating doctors may not be qualified or have proper medical equipment, leading to wrong diagnosis and/or improper treatment.