Incomplete ship work leads to suit against environmental company

By Kelly Holleran | Oct 15, 2009

A maritime cleaning company has filed suit against an environmental service, alleging it was forced to spend at least $70,000 when the service failed to finish the job.

According to a complaint filed Oct. 9 in Jefferson County District Court, plaintiff Safety First and defendant Evergreen Environmental Services, doing business as Evergreen Industrial Services, are parties in an agreement to perform preparatory work for a ship called the "American Tern," which was docked at the Port of Beaumont on June 19, 2008.

As part of the preparatory work, Safety First and Evergreen were to clean the engine room of the vessel by pumping out all oil accumulated on the floor and pressure washing the walls and fixtures in the room, the suit states.

However, the complaint states while performing the job Evergreen caused a spill of oil in the ship's cargo hold and on the nearby dock.

In turn, remaining preparatory work on the ship was delayed, and the "American Tern" left for Norfolk, Va., without Evergreen completing the required work, the plaintiff claims.

When the ship reached the Norfolk dock, Safety First claims it was forced to hire IMS Environmental to clean up the oil and complete work that Evergreen had been hired to perform, according to the complaint.

"IMS charged Safety First $32,526.12 for labor, equipment and materials necessary to provide emergency tank cleaning services and to complete Evergreen's project on board the 'American Tern' while docked in Norfolk, Va.," the suit states.

In addition, Safety First says it had to send two of its own employees from Beaumont to Norfolk to manage the clean-up efforts, the complaint says. Additional travel, labor and lodging expenses for the project cost Safety First about $14,000, the complaint says.

Not only was Safety First forced to dole out money for clean-up costs, but the company alleges it also lost at least $10,000 worth of equipment after Evergreen employees either took or misplaced multiple items Safety First owned.

Incidental and financial expenses related to the incident caused Safety First to rack up another bill of $13,411, according to the complaint.

"Evergreen owes Safety First damages of at least $70,000 for breach of its agreement with Safety First and property damage relating to the American Tern project," the suit states.

Safety First has demanded the money it says it is owed from Evergreen, but Evergreen has failed to compensate it, the complaint says.

In the three-count suit, Safety First alleges breach of contract, property damage and conversion of property and negligence.

It is seeking actual, future, incidental and consequential damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees and costs.

Keith Kebodeaux and Casey H. Hargroder of the Law Office of Keith Kebodeaux in Beaumont will be representing it.

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

Jefferson County Circuit Court case number: A185-108.

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