Attorney Kyle Findley and the Arnold & Itkin team secured a $27.7 million verdict for a mother and her minor child whose father was tragically killed while working onboard an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana.
We filed this suit against Talos ERT, LLC, the owner and operator of the drilling platform where our client's father was working. At the time, DSL was contracted by Talos to remove the aging pipe. Our client's father, who worked for DSL, and his coworkers were instructed to cut the old pipe into pieces before removal. Talos also planned the job with the contractor employees to use a rope to lower the piping after it was cut into sections. Evidence was presented that there was more appropriate equipment available for the job, which was not selected during the planning done by Talos. As a result, a heavy section of pipe broke free during the job and fell, crushing the plaintiff’s father. He suffered catastrophic injuries that proved fatal.
Despite this, Talos tried to blame our client's father, his coworkers, and their company. We argued on our client’s behalf that Talos not only owned and operated the platform, but they had planned, coordinated, issued permits, and authorized all of the work that was done—including the work performed with inadequate equipment.
"Somebody has to bear the ultimate responsibility for safety on offshore platforms," said Findley. "When multiple contractors are operating on a rig, companies start pointing fingers when something goes wrong and someone gets hurt or killed, but the company that owns and operates the platform has authority over everything that happens, and that means they have responsibility for the safety of everyone working on their equipment."
Talos made zero effort to resolve the case, and offered a nuisance value settlement offer before trial, a legal term meaning the minimum value of what it would cost to pay the lawyers to try the case.
In the end, the jury assigned 88% of the liability to Talos and awarded $27.7 million to our client for:
- Loss of past and future financial support
- Loss of love, affection, and companionship
- Past and future mental anguish
"It's a privilege for companies that secure drilling rights to be able to operate in the Gulf, and with that privilege comes the responsibility to do the work safely," said Findley. "Walter's death was completely preventable. Talos chose to cut corners on safety, and it cost Walter his life. Until it becomes too expensive for offshore companies to tolerate worker injuries and deaths, these types of tragedies will keep on happening. Companies have the ability to operate safely, but they choose not to—until they have a financial motivation to protect workers."
The Largest Wrongful Death Award in Louisiana History
This verdict was claimed to be the largest wrongful death award ever granted in Louisiana history. It’s nearly twice the size of the previous record-holder, which was won only months ago. This case also marks a rare situation where the general damages awarded to a minor child are larger than the award granted to a decedent’s spouse. In typical wrongful death cases, the bulk of a jury award goes to husbands, wives, or partners, with a smaller award granted to their children. While the decedent’s wife also received a large verdict (the fourth-largest wrongful death award in Louisiana history), it’s historically significant that her son received a larger verdict.