Seaman sues after slipping in '09 oil spill aboard vessel

Michelle Massey Sep. 13, 2010, 3:25am


A worker cleaning up a BP oil spill aboard a vessel in 2009 has filed a lawsuit against the company in federal court in New Orleans.

Gary Joseph Stelly, Jr. filed the suit against BP America, Exxon Mobile Corp. and BIS Salamis on Aug. 31.

He claims the oil leak occurred on Sept. 8, 2009 aboard the vessel Thunder Horse, when a gasket failed in a pipe system. Stelly worked as a seaman for BIS Salamis doing maintenance work aboard the vessel and was pressed into service to assist in the cleanup of the oil.

Stelly states he was not provided proper training or equipment to deal with the oil spill and was injured when he stepped over a pipe onto an oily surface. He slipped and twisted his knee, requiring surgeries to repair the damage.

Defendant BP and Exxon are accused of negligence for operating the rig in a manner as to permit the escape of oil, working the crew members to such a pace as to create an unsafe condition, insufficient or defective equipment, allowing the vessel to be unseaworthy and improperly crew, not providing proper training or sufficient crew members and insufficient or inadequate warnings of the dangers of cleanup operations on the rig.

BP and Exxon are also accused of inadequate waste removal clothing and boots and procedures, lack of supervision, defective piping system and failing to monitor the vessel's pipe system.

Defendant BIS Salamis is accused of failing to provide maintenance and cure, failing to provide proper training and allowing Stelly to be pressed into the service of the cleanup crew without proper equipment or training.

Stelly is seeking damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, maintenance and cure, punitive damages and interest.

Stelly is represented by William H. Goforth of Goforth & Lilley in Lafayette. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv02867

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