Dredging firm faces lawsuits after explosion kills four

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2020 | Offshore accidents

In late August 2020, the dredge Wayman R. Boyd struck an underwater natural gas pipeline during operation. The accident caused a massive explosion and fire. The crew of 19 suffered four casualties and several other injuries.

The Orion Marine Group, the Houston-based dredging firm that owns the Wayman R. Boyd, now faces several lawsuits.

One of many pending lawsuits

The first lawsuit comes from survivor Jose Cantu, who suffered “serious injury and burns” from the accident. The lawsuit alleges that Orion Marine Group did not plan the operation adequately, failing to identify the dangerous pipeline and provide the crew fair warning. The lawsuit seeks damages for injuries and the intense pain of suffering burns.

Four crewmen lost their lives in the accident. Their surviving family members join Cantu with individual wrongful death suits. Each suit claims the tragedy was not an accident but stems from negligence on behalf of the Orion Marine Group’s management. The suits allege that the surveys used by the crew of the Wayman R. Boyd did not contain information on the pipeline. The lawsuits seek damages exceeding $200 million.

A history of legal action against the dredging firm

These lawsuits are not the first aimed at Orion Marine Group. Court records indicate the dredging firm faces seven pending lawsuits. The suits concern other accidents, including an automobile accident and another explosion.

Legal experts anticipate that Orion will build their defense around the 170-year-old Limitation of Liability Act. This rule will name anyone with a potential claim as defendants in the suit, including survivors and the families of the deceased. Historically, invoking the act freezes further lawsuits involving the incident, limiting liability and taking decision-making out of a jury’s hands.

Swift legal action is necessary

In maritime law cases, victims must pursue legal action quickly and decisively. These large corporations keep a staff of lawyers on retainer, all primed to defend against these legal actions. Victims in an offshore accident find more success working with a local lawyer familiar with complex maritime law.