Employee slips on gangplank, falls into Gulf, sues employer

Michelle Massey Jul. 23, 2010, 7:23am

NEW ORLEANS-A wireline operator is suing his employer for improperly positioning a vessel's gangplank causing him to slip and fall into the Gulf of Mexico.

Using the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, Joseph Clay Harrison filed suit against Quality Energy Services July 14 in federal court in New Orleans.

The alleged incident happened in November 2009 as Harrison was climbing over the handrails and into the wellhead area to work. He claims he slipped off the gangplank and fell into the Gulf some 30 feet below.

Harrison says that as he was falling, he struck various parts of the platform, causing further physical injuries.

Quality Energy is accused of failing to provide Harrison with the proper means of ingress and egress to the oil platform form on the vessel and for creating an unsafe and unreasonable barrier on the gangway which required Harrison to crawl over it to enter his work area.

Harrison says the defendant failed to utilize a nearby open space at the top of the ladder, through which the gangplank could have been placed that would have provided a clear and safe pathway for the wireline crew.

Harrison is seeking more than $500,000 in damages for lost wages, loss of wage earning capacity, medical expenses, mental pain and suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of life.

Harrison is represented by James P. Lambert of Lafayette and Jeffrey F. Speer of Doucet, Speer in LaFayette.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv01974

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