In late August, a dredging vessel owned by Orion Marine Group struck a pipeline in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The gas leak ignited, causing an explosion and a fire that killed four crew members and hospitalized at least six others. Days after the accident, we filed a $100 million suit against Orion Marine and other responsible parties on behalf of a worker who was severely burned.
As is often the case with maritime accidents, weeks ago, our firm anticipated that Orion Marine Group would file a lawsuit against the victims to insulate themselves from accountability. Our prediction was based on our experience fighting the largest offshore companies in the world since 2004, all of which operate using the same playbook. Like many offshore companies before it, Orion Marine Group filed suit under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, an antiquated law designed to protect small shippers from litigation in the early days of American trade.
Channel 3 News in Corpus Christi, the Corpus Christi Caller Times, and ABC 5 all reported on Orion's tactics, taking advantage of victims and families as they're recovering from serious injuries or grieving the deaths of their loved ones. The report explains why the filing under the Limitation of Liability Act is an aggressive, even cruel, act by the company.
The Limitation of Liability Act has the following consequences for workers:
- It forces them to bring cases forward within six months, not three years.
- If successful, it denies families of their right to a trial by jury.
- It limits (in this case) total damages to $9.4 million.
"Ultimately, companies have the opportunity to do the right thing after these kinds of disasters," Attorney Kurt Arnold says in the report. "Many people were killed. Many were seriously burned. Many were injured. They didn't have to avail themselves of this aggressive tactic of suing the families in their most vulnerable moments, but they chose to. The families, while they are recovering, are going to have to get somebody to protect their rights or they will lose them all in 60 days."
Why the Limitation of Liability Act Needs to Be Repealed
Our firm has fought for offshore and maritime workers in some of the worst at-sea disasters in recent history. In nearly every case, the at-fault company filed a limitation lawsuit to protect themselves from taking financial responsibility for their actions. We've even seen companies limit liability based on their ship's value, then claim millions in excess for themselves when they filed an insurance claim on the same vessel.
Our firm has a history of defeating limitation actions.
We’ve beaten Limitation Actions on behalf of our clients in hundreds of maritime tragedies, including the Deepwater Horizon (BP Oil spill), El Faro after it capsized and sank in a hurricane, the USS John S. McCain when it collided with the M/V Alnic, and the Bouchard barge explosion off the coast of Port Aransas.
If you or your loved one was harmed in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel accident, speak with our Orion Marine Group explosion attorneys.
Speak with us today at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation. Learn your options as soon as possible.