Man injured bringing in rig sues marine companies

Kelly Holleran Dec. 15, 2009, 6:00am

A Hardin County man claims his left knee became seriously injured after a cable snapped and struck him while he performed work on a boat.

Ashley McNeal, and his wife, Neely, filed a lawsuit Dec. 10 in Jefferson County District Court against Belle Pass Towing Corp., South Bayou Marine, Hercules Offshore and Hercules Assets.

McNeal claims he was injured while working for R&R Marine in Jefferson County at Sabine Yard on Dec. 12, 2007.

Prior to the incident, Hercules Offshore hired R&R Marine to perform a survey of a Hercules 260 rig owned by Hercules Assets, according to the complaint. However, before the survey could be performed, the Hercules 260 rig had to be placed in a certain position.

So, Hercules Offshore directed Ashley McNeal to assist in positioning the Hercules 260 rig at the dock at Sabine Yard for its survey, the complaint says.

"In order to accomplish this task, a push boat and two tug boats were needed," the suit states. "However, the push boat was either not ordered or did not show up. Regardless, the representative of Hercules Offshore directed Ashley McNeal to utilize the two tug boats to spin the Hercules rig into position to bring it back to the dock."

Defendants Belle Pass Towing and South Bayou Marine owned the two tug boats – the Lady Neva and the Lady Jill – used in the process, the plaintiffs claim.

To position the rig, McNeal had to use cables attached to the tug boats that would bring the vessel into the dock, according to the complaint.

While attempting to unhook a cable, McNeal tried to direct the drivers of the tug boats to let off the throttle of the tug boats, which would slacken the cable. However, the drivers of the tug boats instead accelerated, causing the cable to tighten, the suit states.

"As this occurred, the line whipped up where Ashley McNeal was located, and came into contact with his leg, resulting in severe and substantial injuries," the complaint says.

"As a result of the tug boat taking the incorrect action and causing the cable to tighten, Ashley McNeal suffered numerous physical injuries including the tearing of numerous ligaments in his left knee. Ashley McNeal underwent numerous surgeries and suffered tremendously as a result of the injuries, surgeries, and rehabilitation."

Because of Ashley McNeal's extensive injuries, his wife had to leave her job to assist with her husband's care and rehabilitation, the couple claims.

Because of the incident, the McNeals incurred medical costs and lost wages, according to the complaint. In addition, Ashley McNeal suffered physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement, the suit states.

The McNeals seek actual damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief to which they may be entitled.

Marc J. Wojciechowski and Malcolm D. Dishongh of Wojciechowski and Associates in Spring will be representing the McNeals.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd 172nd District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: E185-462.

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