Mexican family files suit in Jefferson County on behalf of deceased seaman

David Yates Apr. 23, 2008, 10:56am

In anticipation of a hurricane, a Mexican seaman attempted to remove a jack-up rig's flare stack, but the chain linking the flare stack recoiled, thrusting the man of the rig and into the Gulf of Mexico, where he drowned.

The incident happened almost four years ago and now the Mexico-based family of the late Miguel Sandria has filed suit against his employers in Jefferson County.

The suit, filed on April 21, names Pride Central America and Pride International, Mexico Drilling Limited and Gulf Personnel Services as defendants. Sandria's mother, Yolanda Sandria, is the lead plaintiff.

Yolanda's attorney, Benton White, contends jurisdiction is proper because "Jefferson County fronts on the Gulf of Mexico and … the Pride companies are doing business in (the county)."

Attorney Brenton also says his clients are entitled to recover "moral damages, pursuant to the laws of Mexico."

According to the Sandria family's petition, on Sept. 13, 2004, Miguel Sandria was a member of the crew of the Pride Mississippi, a jack-up rig owned and operated by the defendants.

Miguel was attempting to remove the "burner" or "flare stack" aboard the rig from its operational position to secure it in anticipation of hurricane winds when the chain cable on the burner broke.

"The recoil threw Miguel … along with the burner and the post that supported the burner," the suit said.

"Plaintiffs would also show that Miguel … was harnessed to the burner and/or entangled in it when it fell into the ocean. Miguel thus drowned due to the negligence and unseaworthiness of the Pride Mississippi and Defendants."

The Sandria family contends the death of Miguel, a Jones Act seaman, was negligently caused by the defendants in the following ways:

  • In having a negligent and/or unseaworthy designed, installed, and maintained structure with regard to the burner and/or flare stack and contiguous parts or structure;
  • In failing to have in force a safe procedure for removing the burner and flare stack from an operational position to a less exposed position and therefore secure it in the face of hurricane winds (which are foreseeable);
  • In ordering Miguel and Christian to attach and secure their safety harness or belts to the post on the burner or flare stack;
  • In failing to have adequate personnel available to accomplish the removal and securing of the burner or flare stack, in a safe manner;
  • In failing to provide adequate crew members to conduct and complete tasks;
  • In failing to warn the Deceased that a dangerous condition existed which required extra care taken by them;
  • In failing to provide adequate safety measures that would have prevented the incident; and
  • In proceeding with the described work despite the risk and/or despite the lack of adequate vessel, personnel, and/or equipment.

    "Miguel died as a result of the occurrence in question, and, as such, his Estate and/or relatives incurred reasonable and necessary medical expenses and funeral and burial costs," the suit said.

    Miguel's family members are also for loss of companionship.

    The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District.

    Case No. D181-630

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