Orange man alleges broken ankle will prevent work, sues Gulf Copper

Marilyn Tennissen Jan. 23, 2008, 8:56am

Gulf Copper & Manufacturing in Sabine Pass

An Orange man is suing Port Arthur-based Gulf Copper, claiming a broken ankle he suffered while painting a rig will keep him from ever returning to work.

Hilton Bacon filed a personal injury suit against Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corp. and Blake Offshore LLC on Jan. 14 in the Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the plaintiff's original complaint, Bacon was employed as a painter for Eldridge Construction. In December 2006, Eldridge crews were working at the Gulf Copper yard in Sabine Pass on the Blake 202 Jack-up drilling rig.

"Plaintiff's employer, Eldridge Construction, was hired by Gulf Copper, Blake Offshore or some third corporation to perform certain work on the drilling rig as part of an overall refurbishment and repair," the complaint states.

On Dec. 1, 2006, the plaintiff claims he was on the drilling floor to do touch-up painting.

"The floor of the drilling rig was extremely cluttered and messy," the complaint alleges. "There was a large amount of material stored on the drill floor as well as obstructions overhead.

"As plaintiff, Hilton Bacon, was attempting to walk across the extremely cluttered drill floor, he tripped and fell on a roll of welding cable that had been left on the drill floor."

Bacon broke his left ankle and claims he has not been able to return to work since. The suit states that Bacon was treated at the Beaumont Bone & Joint clinic.

"An MRI was performed which showed that plaintiff has a severely broken left ankle," the petition claims. "Plaintiff has not recovered from the effects of this accident. Plaintiff will not be able to return to work."

The plaintiff alleges that Gulf Copper and Blake Offshore were negligent in the following ways:

Failing to clean up the drill floor
Failing to establish a safe system of storage
Failing to secure adequate access for workers such as plaintiff to various parts of the drill floor, and
Failing to provide plaintiff a safe place to work.

The suit alleges that the defendants' acts and omissions constitute negligence and are the proximate cause of Bacon's fall and subsequent damages.

"Plaintiff would show that his damages, when measured in money, are substantial," the suit states. "Plaintiff will probably not be able to return to work."

The company's Web site says Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corporation is an Employee-Owned company that started operations more than 50 years ago as a specialty contractor installing copper tubing on marine vessels. It continues to serve the commercial marine market, but has also expanded into the military marine, offshore, petrochemical and industrial markets and services include full topside marine repair, steel fabrication, steel and mechanical repair, machining, painting and blasting.

Attorney Steven Barkley filed the suit on behalf of Bacon under General Maritime Law. Barkley states that at the time of the accident Bacon had the status of a longshoreman and can bring action against the vessel owner under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.

Bacon is seeking general relief, court costs and interest.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield.

Case No. 1:08-cv-027-TH

More News