Transocean wants claims of five who took Fifth dismissed

Steve Korris Sep. 13, 2011, 4:12am


NEW ORLEANS - Deepwater Horizon oil rig owner Transocean claims workers hid behind the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions about their injuries.

On Aug. 30, Transocean asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to dismiss plaintiffs Andrea Fleytas, Allen Seraile, Stephen Bertone, James Ingram and Bill Johnson.

Transocean alternatively moved to terminate cure and maintenance payments it has made to the five since the rig exploded, 17 months ago.

"Plaintiffs have frustrated Transocean's right and duty to investigate their maintenance and cure claims," Kerry Miller of New Orleans wrote.

He wrote that they asserted privilege against self incrimination "as a device to refuse to answer any questions concerning their alleged injuries, their medical condition and their medical treatment despite their having filed suit for such damages."

He wrote that the U.S. Department of Justice has begun an investigation of events surrounding the explosion.

"This investigation has unfortunately caused the specter of criminal charges to hang over the heads of certain individuals," he wrote.

He wrote that there was no basis to believe answers to questions regarding personal injuries might tend to incriminate the five.

He wrote that they misused the Fifth Amendment, "unless plaintiffs have engaged in criminal activities that are somehow related to their receipt of maintenance and cure."

He wrote that they asserted the Fifth Amendment scores or hundreds of times.

Steven Roberts, Rachel Giesber, Kent Sullivan and Teri Donaldson, all of Sutherland Asbill and Brennan in Houston, worked on the motion.

So did Edwin Preis, Edward Kohnke, Robert Mallam, and Anthony Lascaro, all of Preis and Royin Lafayette, La.

Barbier presides over Deepwater Horizon damage suits from many federal courts by appointment of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation.

He plans to star ttrial in February to apportion liability among Transcoean, rig operator BP, investors Anadarko and MOEX, cement contractor Halliburton, blowout prevention contractor Cameron International and others.

More News