Worker files lawsuit after falling 85 feet through open elevator shaft

By Michelle Keahey | Dec 4, 2011


After falling 85 feet through an open elevator shaft, a worker has filed a lawsuit that claims he and his co-workers were rushed through elevator installation project.

Christopher Gonzales filed suit against Alimak Hek Inc. on Nov. 19 in federal court in New Orleans.

Gonzales was employed by National Oilwell Varco as a helper and was assigned to disassemble an elevator and install a new elevator on the drill floor of the MODU Discoverer Deep Seas, the suit claims. The defendant planned and supervised the construction of the new elevator aboard the vessel.

Gonzales states that he and a crew were ordered by the defendant to deviate from plans and specifications on how to assemble the elevator. However, the modifications were rejected by a Transocean supervisor, the suit claims.

Gonzales states that as a result, he and the crew were required to work too fast to avoid delaying the job completion.

On April 19, 2011, Gonzales was assigned to install paneling in the reassembled elevator shaft approximately 225 feet above the drill floor. He claims he was told that they would be working over steel grating in part created by the top of the elevator being positioned at the work site.

According to the complaint, an Alimak Hek supervisor lowered the elevator and created an open hole at the work site. Gonzales fell through the open hole, approximately 85 feet and landed on top of the elevator.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for severe, painful and disabling injuries, including multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, plus court costs and interest.

Gonzales is represented by Paul M. Sterbcow and Patrick J. Schepens of Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson in New Orleans.

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

Case No. 2:11-cv-02939

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