The family of a barge worker is suing a company after a man suffocated while working on a barge that was charged with nitrogen.

Carolyn Sue Hammerly, the executor of the state of Joe Randal Hammerly, and Hammerly’s survivors Melanie Nicole Hammerly Schlemmer and Joseph Randall “Randy” Hammerly filled suit Feb. 5 in the Jefferson County District Court against Tubal-Cain Marine Services, citing negligence and wrongful death.

The lawsuit states Joe Hammerly was working as an employee of Marine Operations Management LLC at Vessel Repair Inc. in Port Arthur on Oct. 27, on board barge No. DBL-119, owned by Devall Towing and Boat Service.

Tubal-Cain filled the barge with nitrogen, but the suit alleges the company failed to tag the barge or warn anyone.

According to the lawsuit, Hammerly opened and entered the first hatch to make sure a blind flange had been properly secured and was overcome by the nitrogen and died by suffocation.

The Hammerly family is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.

They are being represented by Larry Hunter of Provost Umphrey Law Firm LLP in Beaumont.

Jefferson County District Court Case No. A195-195


This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Jefferson County District Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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