Offshore workers sue after bridge collapse; Five plunge into Gulf

By Michelle Keahey | Oct 14, 2011


Five offshore workers have filed a Jones Act lawsuit after the bridge they were attempting to remove broke apart and they fell approximately 80 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.

Josue Olvera Armijo, Jose Luis Ponce-Zuniga, Kyle Ivy, Derrick Picou and Abraham Mayorga filed suit against Tetra Technologies Inc. on Oct. 5 in federal court in New Orleans.

The alleged incident occurred on May 22, as the men, who were aboard the D/B Tetra, were assigned the task of removing a bridge connecting two sections of an oil production platform. The plaintiffs and their co-workers made various cuts to the supporting structures of the bridge and then attached four nylon straps to the bridge in an effort to lift it. The straps were attached to the crane and lifted to the platform.

According to the lawsuit, the crane operator on the barge applied 40 tons of lift to the bridge and although the bridge slightly moved, it did not break free from the platform. After attempting the lift, the crane operator allowed the straps to hang slack. The plaintiffs and their co-workers were directed onto the bridge and were determining what else must be done to free the bridge, when the northern end of the bridge collapsed and dropped towards the water. Everything and everyone were dropped approximately 80 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, the suit states.

The workers claim they suffered varying injuries due to the fall and due to the various equipment that struck them in the water.

The defendant is accused of negligence for the use of nylon straps and/or the improper rigging of the straps supporting the bridge due to it being shock loaded, loose piping and other unsecured objects were not removed from the bridge before the lift, activities were conducted with insufficient lighting, due to the crane operator allowing too much slack on the slings, failure to properly supervise the operations and for requiring the workers to gather on the bridge while it was suspended by rigging of the crane.

The defendant also is accused of negligence for failing to provide the proper equipment to perform the job safely, failing to provide adequately trained supervisory personnel and failure to properly supervise the lifting operation being performed by the crane on the barge.

The workers are seeking damages for medical expenses, lost wages, physical and mental pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent disability, special damages, loss of earning capacity, attorney's fees, punitive damages and interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Charles C. Bourque, Jr., Christopher St. Martin, Joseph G. Jevic, III and Adam J. Triplett of St. Martin & Bourque in Houma.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-02493

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