Dune Energy sues after backhoe operator allegedly causes oil spill

Michelle Keahey Jan. 3, 2012, 1:00am

An energy company has filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against the employer of a backhoe operator that caused an oil spill.

Under the Oil Pollution Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Dune Energy Inc. filed suit against Frogco Amphibious Equipment on Dec. 28 in federal court in New Orleans.

The alleged incident occurred on Dec. 29, 2010, while Frogco was assisting with a dredging operation in Garden Island Bay. The operation involved dredging a canal next to Dune Energy's four-inch bulk underwater transfer line.

According to the lawsuit, an amphibious backhoe operator improperly handled the transfer line and used the backhoe claw in the vicinity of the marked transfer line. In the process, the backhoe damaged the transfer line causing a leak of oil into the surrounding waters.

Dune Energy paid $1.3 million in cleanup and remediation-related damages as a result of the damage to the transfer line and the resulting environmental impact on the surrounding Wildlife Refuge.

The plaintiff is asking the court for an award of $1.3 million in damages for cleanup and remediation, plus interest and court costs.

Dune Energy is represented by Charles R. Talley, Michael J. O'Brien and William M. Burst of Kean Miller LLP in New Orleans.

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

Case No. 2:11-cv-03166

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