Claims: General Maritime Law/Negligence
Jury Verdict: $2.16 million (Attorneys Fees: $820,000; Expenses: $117,502.70; injury – lumbar injuries requiring surgery and post traumatic stress disorder).
Melvin Pace, a roustabout, working on an offshore oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico was injured when the helicopter, a Sikorsky 76, transporting him and a crew back to shore caught fire and violently crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. The owner and operator of the helicopter, Houston Helicopters, had failed to adequately maintain the helicopter, including fixing a significant oil leak, which caused the fire. To add insult to injury, the helicopter was not equipped with proper life vests and Houston Helicopters failed to notify the Coast Guard of the crash for nearly seven hours. As a result, Mr. Pace and the other passengers were forced to remain in the Gulf of Mexico for hours until they were rescued. Once home, Mr. Pace underwent surgical treatment to his lower back. In February 2008, a Brazoria County jury awarded $2.16 million in damages.