Shipbuilder sued after rental equipment damaged by Hurricane Ike

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 15, 2010, 4:16pm

A Beaumont company has filed a lawsuit to recover more than $1million in damages to rental equipment caused by Hurricane Ike.

Sentry Select Insurance Co., as subrogee of Gulfco Industrial Equipment Inc and Gulfco Industrial Equipment, filed suit against R&R Marine d/b/a R&R Shipbuilding d/b/a R&R Marine Maintenance Inc. d/b/a R&R Marine Offshore Inc. d/b/a R&R Marine Construction d/b/a R&R Marine Fabrication and Drydock and National Liability & Fire Insurance Co. on Sept. 10 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

According to the lawsuit, defendant R&R was performing shipbuilding and ship repair operations in Port Arthur. The company rented equipment valued at more than $1 million from Gulfco from November 2006 to August 2008.

On Sept. 7, 2008, Hurricane Ike was forecasted to make landfall in Texas. As predicted, on Sept. 13 Hurricane Ike made landfall near Port Arthur and damaged the equipment entrusted to R&R.

Defendant R&R is accused of negligence and breach of contract for failing to move and safeguard the equipment to ensure it was not lost or damaged by the storm, for failing to exercise prudence in moving or preserving the equipment contracted and entrusted to it and failing to give Gulfco an opportunity to move or safeguard the equipment.

According to the rental contract defendant R&R was required to maintain a separate insurance policy covering the equipment and indemnify Gulfco from all loss and expense regarding the equipment.

Gulfco states the defendant returned the equipment with substantial damage following Hurricane Ike and failed to maintain a policy of liability and property insurance.

Sentry Select and Gulfco are asking the Court for more than $1 million, plus attorneys' fees, interest and court costs.

The plaintiff is represented by Eugene W. Brees of Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees & Cheng in Austin. Jury trial is requested.

Case No. 1:10cv00553

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