No contortionist, seaman sues over valve placement

David Yates Aug. 7, 2007, 10:35am

Mark Lanier

Armed with the Jones Act, Alton Adams is suing his employer for "forcing him to place his body in an unsafe position" while operating a ship's valves.

Adams claims the valves were of a poor design, and hurt his back because the control devices were "sticking."

He filed his personal injury lawsuit against Pride Offshore Inc. and Mariner Energy Inc. with the Jefferson County District Court on Aug. 6.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Adams was a seaman aboard the merchant marine vessel Pride Alaska, a jack-up rig owned and operated by Pride Offshore.

On April 17, 2007, Adams was working 13 miles off the coast of Sabine Pass when he was injured "due to having to be in an unsafe position in order to try to operate the valves located aboard the vessel," the suit said.

In his suit, Adams claims the ship's valves were improperly maintained, causing them stick. Apparently, he over excerted himself while attempting to operate the "inoperable" valves. "Pride Offshore was negligent for…failing to provide a safe place to work."

Adams also claims the ship's valves "were placed in the wrong location," making the ship unseaworthy, which is a requirement to sue under the Jones Act.

"The valves in question were designed and built in such a way that men such as Adams would have to bend, stoop and contort their bodies to be able to reach and manipulate them," the suit said. "The Pride Alaska was built by Bethlehem Steel Co. in its Beaumont shipyard in 1982."

Furthermore, Adams faults Mariner Energy for failing to ensure its "company men" were following safety procedures.

He is seeking judgment against the defendants and is asking for damages for his medical expenses, physical pain, impairment, lost wages, lost household services and mental anguish.

"If it be shown that plaintiff was suffering from some pre-existing injury, then such injury was aggravated and exacerbated as a result (of the defendants' negligence.)"

Adams is represented by Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm.

"Since 1990, The Lanier Law Firm has worked very hard to earn the trust and respect of our clients, whether they are lone individuals or major corporations…our experience and advocacy in the courtroom has resulted in some very positive outcomes for our clients, as well as the respect of our peers and recognition by the news media," the firm's Web site said.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. A179-757

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