Commercial fisherman files class action over Gulf Coast oil spill

Michelle Massey May 3, 2010, 5:44am



Troy Wetzel, Extreme Fishing and a class of similarly situated individuals and entities filed a class action lawsuit against Transocean, BP and its insurers over the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Wetzel is a licensed commercial fisherman who regularly conducts charter fishing and diving trips in the area that is now covered by the expanding oil slick.

Attorneys Jonathan Andry of The Andry Law Firm of New Orleans, Bob Wright and James Roy of Domengeaux, Wright, Roy & Edwards of Lafayette, Pierce O'Donnell and Robert Partain of O'Donnell & Associates of Los Angeles, Calvin C. Fayard, Jr. of Fayard & Honeycutt of Denham Springs and William Strain of William Strain & Associates of Baton Rouge are representing Wetzel and the proposed class.

The rig owned by Transocean was drilling for crude oil approximately 50 miles southeast of Venice in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, when an explosion occurred, causing it to sink and killing at least 11 crewmembers.

According to the lawsuit filed April 28 in the federal court of New Orleans, the well is continuing to spill approximately 42,000 gallons of oil on a daily basis.

The proposed class of plaintiffs includes all individuals and entities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida which are commercial fisherman, shrimpers, charter boat operators, and businesses which incur economic damages as a result of the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon oil well.

"This ecological calamity may become the worst oil spill ever in the Gulf of Mexico, wreaking billions of dollars of damages," the suit states. "Plaintiffs and other class members watch in horror as this grave environmental disaster inexorably moves toward the coastline and imperils the nation's largest remaining wetlands and vulnerable habitat for fish, oysters, crabs, shrimp, birds and other precious wildlife."

Transocean is accused of negligence for failing to provide a competent crew, failing to supervise or train its employees, failing to provide sufficient personnel to perform operations, failing to exercise due care and failing to avoid this accident.

Defendant BP is accused of negligence for failing to properly train and supervise its crew, failing to ensure its crew worked in a safe and prudent manner, failing to provide a safe place to work, failing to maintain and operate the rig safely, failing to use proper weighted drilling muds, failing to exercise due care and caution and failing to avoid the accident.

On behalf of the proposed class, Wetzel is seeking damages for economic losses, including lost profits, prejudgment interest, attorney's fees and court costs.

U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon is assigned to the case.

Case No 2:10cv01222

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