A group of 17 Mexicans has filed a lawsuit against four American companies blaming them for an explosion on a deadly explosion on a mobile offshore platform. The explosion killed 22 workers and injured 63 people.

The entire case involves an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico on the 23rd of October in 2007. The mobile platform, Usumacinta, in the Bay of Camphene collided with a stationary platform leading to an oil and gas leak. Personnel on the Usumacinta tried to close the safety valve, but were unsuccessful. Employees on the platform were told that they would have to abandon the platform because the gas leak could not be stopped.

However, as the terrified employees began to prepare to abandon the platform, they found that the rough seas and strong winds quickly destroyed their lifeboats. According to the lawsuit, the workers spent up to 20 hours stranded about 16 miles offshore, waiting be rescued. Several drowned. At the time the platform exploded, there were 73 Petroleos Mexicanos employees on the platform.

The lawsuit blames Gulf Coast Marine and Associates Inc., Halliburton Company, Schlumberger Technology Corporation, Matthews-Daniel Company and Glen Carter. According to the lawsuit, Matthews-Daniel Company had been hired to conduct an assessment of the integrity of the seafloor and the safety of the environmental conditions under which the mobile platform would operate. The assessment made use of data from before 1990 that showed virgin seafloor, and failed to consider the 87 holes in the seafloor left behind by a previous rig. These holes made the seafloor extremely unstable.

Offshore Rig Workers May Not be Aware of Their Rights Under the Jones Act

There is a reason why jobs in the oil exploration and drilling industry come with salaries that are higher than land jobs for the same qualifications. These jobs tend to involve long and stressful hours, working on an offshore rig in the middle of, what can often be, rough seas and harsh weather conditions.

Even though this work is more dangerous than land-based jobs, employers can do much to make conditions safer for workers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, and the lack of proper safety procedures can quickly become apparent during an explosion, leak or other catastrophe.  A worker may only learn of his employer’s abdication of his responsibilities when he meets with a maritime attorney.

The maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers are trial attorneys representing crew members of cargo ships, commercial fishing vessel crew members, barge and tugboat operators, cruise liner crews, offshore rig workers, jack-up rig workers, tanker and freighter crews and other workers who qualify for Jones Act seaman status, in injury and wrongful death litigation.  Please contact me, SMSH Partner Matt Shaffer, at (713) 364-0723 or via e-mail at [email protected].  You can also follow me on Twitter @JonesAct.