Judge considers Harvey Gulf motion for summary judgment

David Yates Oct. 28, 2010, 6:44am


In July 2008, the Southeast Texas Record reported on a Jones Act suit filed by a seaman who claimed the strain of reaching for a handrail injured his arm.

Court records show Ricci Anderson grabbed the handrail to steady himself as the boat rocked as he transferred from one boat to another. Anderson, a veteran ship pilot, claimed the strain of having to reach up and grab the handrail caused severe injuries to his arm.

On Monday, Oct. 25 a summary judgment hearing was held in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court.

Defendant Harvey Gulf International Marine filed the motion in August, asserting Anderson is not entitled to bring a Jones Act claim.

Judge Shuffield did not make a ruling after the hearing and said he would take the motion under advisement.

According to the suit, Anderson was employed as a pilot with Sabine Pilots of Groves.
On Oct. 21, 2007, Harvey Gulf was towing a semi-submersible drilling rig owned by Diamond Offshore. Anderson was called out to transfer onto the tugboat, the Harvey Thunder, to tow the drilling rig into the jetties.

Diamond Offshore Drilling is also a defendant named in the suit.

"While in the process of transferring from the pilot boat onto the Harvey Thunder ... the tugboat yawed and rocked causing plaintiff's arms to be jerked violently," the suit states.

"Plaintiff was forced to grab onto handrails overhead - in the absence of a ladder, guide bar/guide rails and/or safety rod - to avoid falling between the vessels. As a result, plaintiff sustained severe injuries."

In its motion, Harvey Gulf maintains Anderson cannot establish that the company owed "Anderson, an experienced pilot, a duty to install a grab bar to assist a pilot in boarding."

"Plaintiff was undeniably the expert in determining whether it was safe to board the towing vessel," the motion states. "Therefore, defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law."

Harvey Gulf is represented by Houston attorney Daryl Dursum of Adams and Reese.

Anderson is suing for past and future physical pain and mental anguish, medical bills, lost earnings and earning capacity, impairment, disfigurement and other costs and fees.

Anderson is represented by attorney Sandee Hart of the Bernard & Hart law firm.

Case No. D182-049

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