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$9.6 Million Jones Act Verdict Upheld

On April 28, 2016, the Houston Court of Appeals for the 1st District denied Diamond Offshore Services’ request for a rehearing en banc, choosing to uphold the decision by a three-judge panel that had previously affirmed the verdict for a Doyle LLP client against Diamond Offshore Services in July 2015.

Willie David Williams is a Mississippi resident and was a long-time employee of Diamond Offshore Services. He worked as a mechanical supervisor and was in charge of making repairs to drilling and other oilfield equipment. While offshore near Egypt, Williams was on board the semi-submersible drilling vessel Ocean Lexington. He was instructed to quickly repair a set of hydraulic pipe elevators in order to avoid a shutdown in drilling operations. While attempting to repair the elevators, Williams heard a cracking sound in his lower back and immediately a felt sharp, radiating pain. Diamond Offshore Services’ violation of company protocol was evidenced in its failure to maintain the elevators, failure to provide sufficient time for repair, and failure to maintain a sufficient number of spare elevators in order to avoid a shutdown in drilling production. In fact, it was later shown that the elevators were in such bad condition that they could not be repaired and had to be scrapped.

In September 2013, a unanimous jury found that Diamond Offshore Services’ negligence and the Ocean Lexington’s unseaworthiness led to an unnecessary medical emergency and were direct sources of the permanent and disabling injuries that Williams sustained. Michael Patrick Doyle, the lead trial lawyer on the case, stated, “Diamond Offshore promises a comprehensive safety program, at least on paper, but the jury’s verdict confirms, in practice, that Diamond Offshore is ready to jettison these critical equipment and operational standards to avoid jeopardizing any financial penalties a shutdown would bring. The jury’s verdict supports the evidence of the company’s willingness to expose its own employees, rig, and the environment to potentially dangerous consequences.”

The 1st Court of Appeals upholding of the verdict is a significant step in obtaining the compensation that Williams and his family have long awaited and deserve. If you or someone you know has suffered an oilfield or maritime injury, you may also be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced trial attorneys at Doyle LLP for more information and guidance on the legal options for your claim.

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