On January 12, 2022, Doyle Dennis LLP secured a $7.86 million verdict on behalf of Gordon Gillies, a drill ship operations adviser, who was injured while working on a vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr. Gillies brought claims for negligence against Valaris PLC (formerly Ensco/Rowan Drilling) and for unseaworthiness of its vessel, the drillship DS-15. At trial, the jury determined that Valaris failed to maintain a stair case from the derrick elevator down to the “deadman” deck of the vessel. Specifically, the second step on the stair case lacked a protective bullnose – an important safety guard at the end of each step. As a result of this defect, Mr. Gillies fell and suffered injuries to his tail bone, back, and spine.
After hearing four days of testimony and argument in the 270th District Court of Harris County, the jury attributed 90% of the negligence that caused the client’s injuries to Valaris and only 10% to the client. Even more telling, the jury attributed 99% of the unseaworthiness of the ship to Valaris and only 1% to the client.
Ultimately, the jury agreed with Doyle Dennis LLP and found that Valaris was negligent in creating the dangerous conditions on the ship. The jury awarded $1,821,000 in past damages (including pain, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement, impairment, and medical care) and $6,040,000 in future damages (including pain, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, impairment, and medical care).
Under maritime law and the Jones Act, an injured maritime worker may be entitled to recover damages from a Jones Act employer such as Valaris. The Jones Act is the federal law that provides compensation for injured seamen on board vessels and other offshore installations, including drill ships. The Jones Act was created as a means to develop the domestic shipping industry. Under maritime law, a vessel may be “unseaworthy” if the hull, equipment, and crew are not reasonable in design, maintenance, and character to perform their intended functions. “Unseaworthiness” of a ship may also include an unfit captain or crew. Once a judge or jury determines that a vessel is unseaworthy, the vessel owner is liable for the injuries caused aboard.
Doyle Dennis LLP is a group of trial lawyers who help injured offshore workers seek the best results. Offshore workers are a vital part of the economy and are protected by a complex set of maritime laws. If you were injured and would like to understand your legal rights, Doyle Dennis LLP can assist in providing a free evaluation of your claim. Call us to discuss your claim.
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