Louisiana oil companies sued after well explosion

Michelle Keahey Jul. 29, 2011, 7:29am

Two Louisiana oil companies are being sued for allegedly allowing its employees to use an acetylene torch on an oil well, which caused an explosion and resulted in severe injuries to at least one employee.

After suffering severe burns, Cary A. Bayham, Jr. filed suit against Grosse Tete Well Service Inc. and Louisiana Delta Oil Company on July 27 in federal court in New Orleans.

The alleged incident occurred on Dec. 1, 2010 as Bayham was working as a floor hand aboard the workover barge Grosse Tete I and was assigned to perform work on a reportedly "dead" well, owned by defendant Louisiana Delta Oil Company. He was ordered by his supervisor to remove bolts from the wellhead using an acetylene torch. As Bayham and his co-workers were cutting the bolts, the wellhead exploded, knocking Bayham off his feet and causing him severe burns.

Defendant Grosse Tete Well Service Inc. is accused of negligence for failing to provide a reasonably safe place to work, failing to provide sufficient assistance to perform the task assigned, for advising that the well was "dead" and instructing Bayham and others to use an acetylene torch, negligent supervision and direction and for failing to provide a sufficient crew and seaworthy vessel.

Defendant Louisiana Delta Oil Co. is accused of negligence for failing to ensure that the wellhead at issue was free of combustible gasses, for representing that the wellhead at issue was free of combustible gasses, for allowing work to proceed before testing for combustible or explosive gases, for failing to stop Bayham's supervisor from moving forward with the work without testing the well and failing to provide a reasonable safe facility.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent disability, maintenance and cure, mental and physical injuries, court costs and interest.

Bayham is represented by Joseph F. Gaar, Jr., Jason M. Welborn, Willard P. Schieffler and Lucas S. Colligan of Law Offices of Joseph F. Gaar Jr. in Lafayette.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-01815

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