Sea Supply, B & J Martin say they are not to blame for wellhead incident

By Tomas Kassahun | Jul 7, 2018

M/V Jessica Elizabeth

NEW ORLEANS - Sea Supply, Inc. and B & J Martin Inc. are asking the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to rule that they should not be held liable for a wellhead that was hit off the Gulf of Mexico, according to a complaint filed June 28.

The complaint said the Jessica Elizabeth, a vessel owned and operated by Sea Supply and B & J Martin, allegedly struck a wellhead believed to be owned by Cantium LLC off the coast of Louisiana on Dec. 30, 2017. 

However, the companies deny that they or the Jessica Elizabeth are to blame for the incident, and they deny liability for any claims for loss, damage, injury or destruction, claiming that “they have a valid defense to any such claims.” 

According to the June 28 filing, the vessel was being properly operated and was seaworthy when the wellhead was allegedly struck.

Attorney Georges Legrand

“On the date of this incident, the wellhead in question did not have proper aids to navigation, including a light and sound signal, all in violation of various statutes and regulations, which was the proximate cause of this accident,” Sea Supply and B & J Martin said in the filing. 

In addition, Sea Supply and B & J Martin said the Jessica Elizabeth was inspected before it made its voyage the day the the wellhead was hit.

“The M/V Jessica Elizabeth was a vessel of the United States and was tight, staunch, strong and fully manned, equipped and supplied and was in all respects seaworthy and fit for the service in which she was engaged,” the complaint said. 

If the court does assign some blame for the incident to Sea Supply and B & J Martin, the companies said they should only be found to have limited liability.

According to the filing, the amount of the alleged damages resulting from the wellhead incident exceeds “the amount or value of complainants' interest in the M/V Jessica Elizabeth and her pending freight.” The filing claims the value of the Jessica Elizabeth was $1 million on the date in question.

“Complainants show that under the circumstances of this case, the value of the freight pending, within the meaning of the applicable statutes, was zero,” the complaint said.

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