Wrongful death lawsuit filed after worker dies from 28 foot fall into oil well hole

Michelle Keahey Feb. 7, 2012, 2:23am

NEW ORLEANS - On behalf of her children, a St. Tammany Parish resident has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three Texas companies that claims the children's father suffered fatal injuries when he fell into an oil well hole.

Amy Richard Howell, on behalf of two minor children, filed suit against Avante Services, Hilcorp Energy Co. and Sparrows Offshore on Jan. 30 in federal court in New Orleans.

The accident occurred on April 18, 2011 while Philip Kliebert was employed for Alliance Oilfield Services and working to plug and abandon a job on Hilcorp Well. According to the lawsuit, a Sparrows crane operator was lifting equipment to move it from the working hole and the load swung away from Kliebert causing him to fall. Kliebert fell almost 28 feet into the exposed well and suffered fatal injuries.

The defendants are accused of negligence for failing to warn, failing to provide a competent, qualified crane operator and properly supervise the operation of the crane and its operator, failing to insure that a proper Job Safety Analysis was implemented, failing to provide a safe work environment, failing to provide sufficient lighting for the task and failing to insure that personal protective equipment and fall protection equipment was provided and used.

The defendants are further accused of negligence for failing to supervise other crewmembers to insure that they would safely monitor and control the crane's load, failing to insure that the crane operator properly centered the load, failing to properly supervise the operation or guarantee that it was properly supervised by others, failing to insure that the crane was properly repaired, and of negligently contracting with inexperienced and incompetent companies to perform the operation being undertaken.

The plaintiff is asking the court for an award of wrongful death damages for loss of financial support, loss of society and consortium, loss of love and affection, funeral expenses and an award of survival damages for medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and fringe benefits, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and loss of household services.

Howell is represented by Kristia A. Post and Lawrence Blake Jones of Scheuermann & Jones in New Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00293

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