Posted March 9, 2012. Oil Rig, Gulf of Mexico.

Houston Jones Act Lawyer Detailed How Employer Was “Twice Liable”

When a seaman is injured, they can get help by meeting as soon a possible with a law firm, skilled in how Houston Jones Act rights apply to their case. In this case, Tim Manus was hurt, while working as a summer intern. Tim was part of the crew of the M/V Dove, a boat outfitted for well-stimulation services. The employer (Rainier) was using the Dove under a time-charter contract with the boat’s actual owner, A-1. Tim got help from an experienced Houston Jones Act lawyer, who understood the extra duties imposed by Rainier’s being both an employer and time-charter (Rainier contracted with A-1 to rent the Dove for six months).

The injury occurred while the Gull’s crew was working in the Gulf of Mexico. The Houston Jones Act lawyer showed how the job required the Gull’s crew to unspool a coiled steel hose from the boat’s stern, extend it to the rig, and attach it to the rig’s wellhead. While the steel hose was extended, the Gull’s movements caused the hose to whip across the deck. To help keep the hose in place, Rainier’s employees ran it through a Rainier-designed, Rainier-constructed apparatus, called the “blue shoe.” These special designs were why the Houston Jones Act lawyer stressed the time-charter issue. The Gull’s captains, Captain A and Captain B, employees of A-1, tried to keep the hose in place by minimizing the Gull’s movements. The crew kept the Gull’s anchor raised because the anchor windlass had a hydraulic oil leak, which was later uncovered by the Houston Jones Act lawyer.

While Tim was aboard the rig, the Houston Jones Act lawyer explained how the Gull’s bow thruster failed. This failure created an emergency because, without the thruster, the Dove couldn’t keep its bow’s position against the current. The Gull’s captain on duty, Captain B, contacted the rig and reported that the thruster had failed. Moments later, the current caused the port-stern mooring line to break, with catastrophic results observed the Houston Jones Act lawyer.

Captain B later admitted to the Houston Jones Act lawyer about telling the Rainier crew members aboard the boat to disconnect the steel hose from the reel assembly. The reel assembly contained a quick-release mechanism. The reel malfunctioned due to modifications made to the system and began to lock up. The quick disconnect button did not release the hose and the employees were unable to move the reel manually. The supervisor ordered three Rainier employees, including Tim, to the rig’s deck to disconnect the hose.

Meanwhile, the Houston Jones Act lawyer explained, the Gulf’s current continued to push the Dove toward the rig. Captain B, fearing impact with the rig, decided to break the starboard-stern mooring line. He did not, the Houston Jones Act lawyer emphasized, contact the rig before taking this action; Rainier’s crew members on the rig’s deck were unaware that the steel hose was about to be pulled taut. Captain B powered the boat’s engines and pulled away from the rig, showed the Houston Jones Act lawyer.

Tim, he later told his Houston Jones Act lawyer, was standing in the bend of the steel hose when the Gull’s movement snapped the hose taut, pinning Tim. The hose cut through Tim’s legs, amputating one leg and nearly amputating the other. The Houston Jones Act lawyer was to prove that Tim lost between eight and nine pints of blood before being evacuated. Doctors later had to amputate the second leg below the knee. Tim, twenty-two years old at the time of the accident, developed severe health problems that will require ongoing treatment, counseling, and medication throughout his life, showed the Houston Jones Act lawyer.

Tim’s Houston Jones Act lawyer sued Rainier and A-1  under the Jones Act and general maritime law. Before a trial began, Rainier and Tim entered into a settlement. The Houston Jones Act lawyer won an agreement to award Tim $23.5 million dollars in exchange for an agreement to share any net recovery he might have against A-1 as the vessel owner. A time-charterer who is also the employer owes duties both as an employer and as a time-charterer. The two duties, the experienced Houston Jones Act lawyer had pointed out to reach the settlement, were separate, and did not affect each other. Rainier (as the time charterer) was mostly responsible for the equipment it had installed on the vessel.

The Houston Jones Act lawyer proved how negligence several ways…modifying the Coflex hose system; failing to test, clean, or properly maintain the Coflex hose system; negligently designing the blue shoe; and failing to test the blue shoe. These were the time-charter responsibilities under the time-charter contract. Rainier’s time-charter negligence, and justified the large settlement agreement with Tim, regardless of the vessel owner’s role in the tragedy.

While the Jones Act is a federal law, a knowledgeable Houston Jones Act law firm will help keep the focus on the seaman, and important Texas state laws, too. This is why so many seamen who have been injured on the Gulf recommend working only with an experienced Houston Jones Act firm.