Representative Cases

Admiralty & Maritime

Amoco Oil Company v. Lexington Insurance Company
The firm’s work in raising statutory and public-policy defenses to coverage gained notoriety as a result of its role in this case. The case served to set limitations on the recent trend in the offshore oil industry of attempts to circumvent the Louisiana Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act, which otherwise invalidates certain additional assured agreements in liability insurance policies.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. v. Monsanto
Monsanto was successfully defended by lawyers in the Admiralty & Maritime Group from a claim for container demurrage that occurred when thirty containers of seed were seized by Romanian Customs authorities. The shipping company blamed Monsanto for not making clearance arrangements, but a federal court in Houston held that the shipping company was responsible, and refused to allow the demurrage charge.

DeShazo v Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations
Former employee sued former employer to recover damages for injuries he received in auto accident in Egypt in which he was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by an employee of a subsidiary of the employer. USDC for SD Tex. granted summary judgment against the employee. 5th Circuit affirmed, holding that employee was limited to La. worker’s compensation remedies under Texas choice of law rules.

Beasley v. U.S. Welding Service, Inc.
Representing Horizon Offshore Contractors, Inc. and Horizon Vessles, Inc., firm attorneys secured a defense verdict in a maritime personal injury claim filed by a contractor’s employee that was allegedly injured on board a vessel owned and operated by Horizon. In dismissing plaintiff’s claim, the Court found that there was no support for plaintiff’s claims of negligence and unseaworthiness and that plaintiff’s injuries were consistent with injuries suffered prior to the subject accident.

Hasty v. Trans Atlas Boats Inc.
The firm represented the Trans Atlas in a claim brought by an employee who was injured when he intervened in an altercation between deckhands. The altercation erupted when one deckhand, Brown, came to work intoxicated, was sent home, yet re-boarded the vessel and started a fight with another crew member. The plaintiff claimed negligence under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness under general maritime law. The court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that Brown’s subsequent violent behavior was not foreseeable, and Atlas’ actions did not constitute negligence under the Jones Act.

Nunez v. B&B Dredging
The U.S. Fifth Circuit overruled the district court and held that the plaintiff, a dredge dump foreman, was not a Jones Act seaman, even though every other member of his crew was a seaman. Firm attorneys argued successfully that the plaintiff did not have a “substantial connection in duration” to the subject dredge. The Fifth Circuit agreed and clarified its earlier Jones Act seaman status analysis/test. This case remains the Fifth Circuit’s most recent ruling regarding seaman status. Plaintiff’s writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court was denied

In the Matter of Superior Crewboats, Inc.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit overruled the district court and held that a Jones Act seaman, who failed to disclose a purported $2.5 million personal injury lawsuit in his personal bankruptcy proceeding, was precluded from prosecuting his personal injury claim against his employer. The Fifth Circuit held that the seaman was judicially estopped from asserting a Jones Act claim against his employer because he knowingly represented in his bankruptcy pleading that he had “no assets,” which would include a personal injury lawsuit. Frilot L.L.C. represented the interests of plaintiff’s Jones Act employer/vessel owner.

Preatto v. Tidewater Marine, Inc.
The firm defended Tidewater Marine in action for maintenance and cure brought by deckhand who sustained knee and back injury in fall on vessel. Following a jury trial in Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, the court found for the deckhand under the Jones Act, but found in favor of the defendant with regard to whether the ship was unseaworthy. Deckhand appealed, and the Fourth Circuit of Louisiana affirmed.

Richard v. Transocean Drilling Co.
Plaintiff brought suit pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 905(b), commonly referred to as the Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), alleging vessel negligence. Transocean was the owner/operator of the rig on which plaintiff was allegedly injured. The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff failed to raise an issue if fact as to any of the duties pertinent to a 905(b) claim.