Port Arthur shrimper sues BP over business losses due to oil spill

Kelly Holleran Jun. 3, 2010, 7:55am

Fleet of shrimping boats docked in Port Arthur

A Port Arthur shrimper has filed suit against BP and other companies claiming he will lose substantial profits because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dai "Mike" Tran filed a lawsuit May 25 in Jefferson County District Court against BP and its subsidiaries, Transocean and its subsidiaries, Halliburton Energy Services, Cameron International Corp., Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Moex Offshore.

Tran claims the oil spill, which is dumping an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf, will affect his ability to earn a living collecting shrimp and fish from his boat, the Dyno Mike.

"Defendants knew of the dangers involved in deepwater drilling operations and failed to take appropriate measures to prevent an oil spill such as this and to prevent damages to the Plaintiff, the Gulf Coast, the Gulf Coast's marine and coastal environments, and the Gulf Coast's estuarine areas, where Plaintiff earns his living," the suit states.

"The oil spill is also causing dangerous environmental contamination of the Gulf of Mexico, its shorelines, marine environments, marine life, wetlands and estuarine areas, which contamination will likely continue to cause damage to Plaintiff's livelihood far into the future."

The oil spill at the subject of the suit began after, during oil drilling operations at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, an explosion and fire erupted, causing the rig to sink into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the complaint.

Now, oil continues to gush a mile beneath the ocean's surface, and efforts to stop the flow of oil have proven unsuccessful. In turn, the oil is migrating throughout the Gulf Coast and has started to move toward Texas' coast, the complaint says.

"The oil spill has already entered and continues to cause increasingly detrimental effects on the Gulf of Mexico's coastal and marine environments and estuarine areas, which are used by Plaintiff for fishing and shrimping activities to earn Plaintiff's livelihood," the suit states. "The oil spill is affecting the peak season for Plaintiff's business and preventing Plaintiff from being able to pursue his business and earn his livelihood."

Tran blames the defending companies for a number of negligent acts leading to the oil spill, including their failure to properly and safely operate the Deepwater Horizon, their operating the rig in such a manner that caused a fire and explosion to occur and their failure to properly inspect the rig to make sure its equipment was in proper working condition.

In addition, the defending companies negligently acted in a careless manner, failed to enforce appropriate safety measures, operated the rig with untrained and unlicensed personnel, inadequately trained and hired personnel, failed to take appropriate action to stop or mitigate the accident and failed to ascertain that the rig was free from defects, according to the complaint.

The defending companies are liable for the spill under the Oil Pollution Act and under the Texas Products Liability Act, the suit states.

In his complaint, Tran seeks economic, compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate allowed by law and other relief the court deems just.

A local seafood restaurant, Lloyd's, was the first business in Jefferson County to file a suit over business losses due to the spill.

Lance P. Bradley and Kelly J. Stewart of McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley, Steele and Chatelain will be representing him.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A186-937.

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