Arnold & Itkin Obtains $14 Million Settlement for Barge Worker Injured by Falling Pipe

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Houston maritime law firm conducted extensive depositions and produced a "day in the life" video on behalf of a worker with head, back and traumatic brain injuries

Houston lawyer Jason Itkin

This lawsuit sends a strong message that the health and safety of offshore workers must truly be safeguarded by employers.

A former barge worker has obtained a $14 million settlement for serious injuries he received from a falling pipe.

The Houston, Texas maritime injury law firm of Arnold & Itkin LLP represented the worker, Jeffrey Yates, in a case reported in the April 2010 issue of Texas Jury Verdict Review and Analysis.

Arnold & Itkin’s investigation in the case (Jeffrey Yates vs. Hercules Offshore, Inc. and Swift Energy Co.; Galveston County, TX; Case No. 58,560, 01-28-09) showed that a welder had temporarily “tacked” a pipe to the barge’s derrick as a grounding mechanism.

The connection the welder created with the tack was not permanent, according to allegations in the lawsuit. When drilling operations resumed, the vibrations from the drill shook the pipe loose. The pipe fell 90 feet, landing directly on Yates’ head, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that he suffered traumatic brain injury, multiple skull fractures, an inter-cranial hematoma, spinal cord injury, facial fractures and multiple thoracic spine compression fractures. His injuries initially left him unable to walk or talk. He was hospitalized for two months before regaining his faculties.

Arnold & Itkin alleged that, in addition to not removing what was to be a temporary weld when his project was completed, the welder did not complete a “hot work” report that would have served as notice to supervisory personnel that the pipe was present.

“This lawsuit sends a strong message that the health and safety of offshore workers must truly be safeguarded by employers,” said lawyer Jason Itkin, a partner in Arnold & Itkin LLP.

Attorney Kurt Arnold, also a partner at Arnold & Itkin LLP, stated, "Explaining the rules is not enough. Supervisory personnel are responsible for making sure their subordinates follow safety procedures every time.”

Itkin, Arnold and Michael Pierce, another lawyer with Arnold & Itkin LLP in Houston, Texas, represented Yates.

Arnold & Itkin's preparation for trial included obtaining depositions from everyone on the barge the day of the accident. Other evidence readied for trial included Yates’ smashed hard-hat and a replica of the four-foot pipe that struck him.

Arnold & Itkin also prepared a “day in the life” video to illustrate how the accident had adversely affected Yates' ability to perform basic life functions.

The defendants ultimately agreed to a $14 million settlement just a few days before trial and 10 months after the initial filing.

About Arnold & Itkin LLP

The lawyers at Arnold & Itkin LLP, a personal injury law firm based in Houston, Texas, understand the complexities and legalities of maritime law and have a successful track record of verdicts and settlements. The firm provides legal guidance on all aspects of maritime law and the benefits off shore workers are entitled to under the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, the principle of maintenance and cure, or the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

The firm handles maritime claims at port cities along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The firm can be contacted toll free at (866) 222-2606.

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