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West Delta 32 Fire

What Caused the Accident?

West Delta 32, an oil platform owned by Black Elk Energy, caught fire on November 16, 2012, around 9:00 in the morning. Initial reports indicated several missing crew members, possible fatalities, and numerous serious injuries. Although the platform was not producing natural gas at the time of the accident, approximately 26 crew members were on board when construction work aboard the vessel resulted in an explosion and fire.

Some speculate the explosion was caused by workers when they used a blow torch to cut through a pipe. According to news articles, the sparks from the blowtorch may have been thrown onto containers holding oil residue, resulting in the fire. Others say the workers were not even welding when the accident happened.

Grand Isle Shipyard employed 14 of the crewmen on the ship. The CEO of Grand Isle said that "initial reports that a welding torch was being used at the time of the incident or that an incorrect line was cut are completely inaccurate." According to the CEO, the blowtorch on the platform had not been used when the accident occurred. He also said that initial investigation had not revealed the exact cause of the accident.

Injuries, Fatalities & Environmental Impact

Reports indicated that about two dozen workers were on board the platform. 11 workers were injured—4 hospitalized, 2 missing. Several days after the explosion, divers located the body of one missing worker underneath the platform. Of the hospitalized workers, several suffered significant burns, but only two remained in critical condition for several days. Although the Coast Guard received a report of a dark substance below the surface of the water surrounding the accident, later news reports denied the existence of a significant spill. Anywhere between 3.5 gallons and 15.8 barrels of oil may have been released into the gulf, but a spill this size is not likely to damage the surrounding environment.

Black Elk Energy

Based in Houston, Black Elk Energy is a five-year-old independent oil and gas company devoted to acquiring, exploiting, and developing properties with these resources. The company currently has an interest in 560,000 acres of oil leases. In its short existence, Black Elk has devoted its energy to buying seemingly dried up oil and gas wells along the Louisiana and Texas coasts; they have made it their business to extract from them whatever oil remains. Although the company has only been operating for a short time, they have already acquired a spotty safety record.

Within just a few months, the High Island well blew, and its shear rams failed to stem the flow of oil.

The well had to be plugged and abandoned. In September 2012, Black Elk paid a $300,000 fine as a punishment for failing an April 2011 safety inspection on one of its platforms; the company was not following safety procedures at that location. The company is also facing an additional $140,000 fine over penalties at another platform dating back to October 2011. Despite its problems maintaining safe operations at its 1167 wells, Black Elk announced in October 2012 that it plans to drill 23 new wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

Call (888) 493-1629 to Schedule a Free Consultation

Arnold & Itkin is dedicated to giving offshore workers the legal representation that they need and deserve. At the firm, we have recovered billions of dollars for injured maritime workers. If you have been injured in an oil rig explosion, contact an attorney from our office as soon as possible. We represented more than a third of the crew of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and are ready to give you the legal aid that you need.

Contact our office today to learn what Arnold & Itkin can do for you: (888) 493-1629.

Case Results

Check Out Our Victories

  • $29Million The Largest Known Settlement for a Wrongful Death Offshore Kurt Arnold, Jason Itkin, and Cory Itkin successfully secured a record settlement for a single family who tragically lost a loved one. It is the largest known settlement for a death that occurred offshore. While a settlement is not an admittance of responsibility, our firm was pleased that the company was willing to provide fair compensation to the family of their employee without a fight.
  • $14Million Jones Act Settlement Reached Two Days Before Trial Arnold & Itkin represented a seaman after he suffered a head injury on the Hercules 15 inland barge. Hercules employees tack welded a three foot pipe to the derrick and then forgot to remove it before starting drilling operations. The pipe was jarred loose and hit Plaintiff in the head, causing severe injury. We presented his case under the Jones Act against Hercules, who chose to settle just before trial.
  • $11.5Million Settlement Won for Injured Victim of Offshore Accident Arnold & Itkin obtained a settlement of $11.5 million on behalf of an offshore accident victim suffering from both physical and psychological injuries. His settlement will ensure that our client gets all the time, financial support, and stability he needs to fully recover and get back on his feet.
  • $8.9Million Settlement Achieved for Severely Injured Seaman Arnold & Itkin helped secure a settlement on behalf of a seaman who injured his head when working aboard an offshore drilling vessel. Our firm helped to recover $8.9 million on his behalf.
  • $8Million Massive Settlement Reached Before Trial Began Our firm represented an offshore worker (a steward) who seriously injured his back in an accident. The injury prevented him from making a living. While other lawyers told him his case was only worth a few hundred thousand dollars, our attorneys knew better. Due to intense negotiations by the firm, Arnold & Itkin was able to obtain a settlement for $8 million from his employers.
  • $7.2Million Millions Won for Brain-Injured Client in Louisiana Arnold & Itkin recovered more than $7 million in a settlement for a severely injured Louisiana client. Our client suffered brain injury and memory issues while working on an offshore platform. The defendant settled his case during jury selection, and our client now has the money he needs to receive quality medical care for the rest of his life.
  • $7.1Million Concussed Worker Received a Massive Settlement after Accident Arnold & Itkin represented an offshore worker with a concussion and a herniated disk from an accident on the job. These injuries inhibited our client’s ability to make a living, requiring him to pursue a claim. His employers eventually resolved the case by settling for $7.1 million.
  • $6.9Million Settlement Obtained for Family of Deceased Offshore Worker Arnold & Itkin negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement for the family of a man who died offshore. Though the defendant attempted to get away with an extremely low offer, our team obtained a settlement that was many times larger.
  • $6.6Million Settlement Obtained for Wife & Family of Deceased Offshore Worker Arnold & Itkin helped a woman and her family get justice after her husband was killed in an incident offshore. Despite undue pressure from the defendant, our firm made sure our clients were taken care of for the rest of their lives.
  • $6.5Million Settlement Secured for Injured Crew Member on Barge Arnold & Itkin obtained a seven-figure settlement for an offshore worker who was injured off the coast of Florida while working in needlessly dangerous conditions. His settlement will help him move forward after irreparable damage was done to his head and face.
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