Judge grants BLT Contractors new trial in wrongful death case

David Yates Jun. 8, 2010, 9:29am

After failing to answer claims arising from a wrongful death case, BLT Contractors was saddled with a default judgment award in April.

However, on Monday, June 7, Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, rescinded his decision and granted the defendant company's motion to set aside judgment and grant new trial.

BLT claimed a "mistake" delayed their response to the suit, court papers show.

On behalf of the late Silas Robinson, Kelly Robinson filed a Jones Act suit against Helix Energy Solutions on Aug. 28, 2009, claiming the company's pipe-laying barge was not seaworthy and the company was responsible for Silas death.

Silas was crushed to death on Dec. 23, 2008, when pipes broke free from Helix's barge and fell on him, court papers show.

In her fourth amended petition, Kelly Robinson added BLT as an additional defendant on Feb. 25.

The company claimed in its motion that it never received the suit and therefore could not answer the allegations within the allotted 30 day grace period.

"BLT did not receive a copy of plaintiff's petition because a third party misplaced documents," the motion states. "When a defendant does not file an answer because of a mistake or accident, the court should set aside the default judgment and grant a new trial."

A date for a new trial has not been set.

BLT is represented by attorney Peter Thompson of the Thompson & Reilley law firm in Houston.

Robinson is represented by attorney Cory Itkin of the Arnold & Itkin law firm.

Case No. D184-801

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