Wife of worker killed by lightning files wrongful death suit against ship owner

By David Yates | Feb 13, 2008

A seaman aboard the Blessey Marine Service vessel Charles Clark, Brandon Jenkins lost his life after lightning struck him last August. Seven months later, Clark's wife has filed suit against Blessey Marine, claiming the company negligently instructed him to work in inclement weather.

Representing Brandon's estate, Amanda Jenkins filed a wrongful death and Jones Act suit in the Jefferson County District Court on Feb. 11.

According to the plaintiff's petition, on Aug. 29, 2007, while the Charles Clark was engaged in navigation and commerce in Jefferson County, Brandon was killed when he was struck by lightning.
That day, the National Weather Service reported an unusually high number of lightning strikes � about 800 in a two-hour period -- as electric storms swept through the area. More than 2,500 Beaumont residents lost power due to the storms.

"The injury to and death of (Brandon) was caused in whole or in part by Blessey Marine Service, Inc.'s, failure to comply with applicable federal statutes and regulations�," the suit said.

The suit charges Blessey Marine Service with the following acts of negligence:

  • Failing to comply with industry standards;
  • Failing to properly train, instruct and supervise;
  • Failing to provide adequate manpower, failed to provide safe footing, failed to inspect, maintain and repair;
  • And failing to warn decedent of the danger and ordered decedent to work in weather conditions that put him at serious risk of bodily injury and death.

    Brandon's family is suing for his pain, mental anguish, funeral expenses and lost wages, plus loss of guidance, grief and loss of services.

    According to the company's Web site, Blessey Marine Services operates the youngest multi-faceted inland tank barge and towing vessel fleet in the United States.

    "Our mission is to safely and efficiently transport our customers' liquid bulk cargoes throughout the navigable inland waterways. Our primary cargoes include residual fuels, asphalt, lubricating oils, petroleum feedstocks, refined petroleum products, petrochemicals and alcohols."

    The Jenkins family is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by attorney Bristol Baxley.

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

    Case No. A181-207

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