Derek Beach, age 32, was working as a mechanic aboard the Robert F. Bauer, a drilling vessel owned and operated by Global Santa Fe Drilling Company. The Bauer was engaged in oil drilling activities in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. Beach was ordered to manually transport an assembly of pipes and a valve weighing in excess of 150 pounds up three flights of narrow stairs to the top deck of the ship without assistance. The crane that would have been used to bring the pipe assembly to the top deck was out of service awaiting parts. As a result, Beach sustained a herniated disc at L5-S1 and a disckectomy was performed.
A second surgery was done six months later and it involved a three-level fusion with metal fixation devices. Beach’s orthopedic surgeon gave him a 25% whole person disability rating with restrictions limited to light duty. Beach sued his employer in U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division under the Jones Act, 46 USC §688 and the general maritime law alleging negligence and unseaworthiness of the vessel. Beach was earning $70,000.00 annually.
Global denied that the accident occurred, as it was unwitnessed. The parties settled the case following mediation in New Orleans. The terms of the settlement agreement stipulated that the amount of the settlement be confidential.
Plaintiff’s experts included Glenn M. Herbert, MRC, Vocational Rehabilitation Evaluation, Lafayette Louisiana; R. Douglas Womack, Ph.D., Consulting Economist, Lafayette, Louisiana; Mr. Norman J. Dufour, Jr., Maritime Expert, New Orleans, Louisiana; Dr. Robert McGuire, Orthopedic Surgery, Jackson, Mississippi. Defendant’s experts included Calvin Barnhill, Drilling Safety, Lafayette, Louisiana; Kenneth J. Boudreaux, PhD, Economist, New Orleans, Louisiana; Margo Hoffman, Vocational Rehabilitation, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Counsel for Parties: Plaintiff’s counsel Benjamin B. Saunders, Metairie, Louisiana. Defendant’s counsel Delos E. Flint, Jr., and Lawrence R. DeMarcay III, New Orleans, Louisiana.