3rd wrongful-death lawsuit filed against owner of oil rig in Gulf of Mexico

16:23, May 05, 2010      

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A third wrongful-death lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the owner of a drilling rig which exploded recently in the Gulf of Mexico.

The lawsuit was filed in the Galveston County of Texas on behalf of the family of Aaron Dale Burkeen, one of the 11 workers still unaccounted for after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast.

Burkeen, a resident of Mississippi, worked as a crane operator on the rig owned by Swiss-based Transocean and leased by British oil giant BP.

According to the complaint, witnesses saw Burkeen, who was operating the crane on deck, try to escape down some stairs when the first explosion occurred. He is believed to have been killed in the ensuing second blast.

The attorneys alleged that the rig was unseaworthy, and accused the defendants of negligence for failing to properly maintain the rig and for failing to meet federal safety requirements.

"Oil rig workers face some of the most dangerous working conditions in the world. That's why companies like Transocean and BP have rules they must follow to protect every worker," said Kurt Arnold, an attorney with the Houston law firm which is handling the lawsuit.

"When companies break the rules, Burkeen and families like his suffer the consequences," the lawyer added.

The lawsuit also includes claims on behalf of three Louisiana men who were seriously injured while working on the rig.

Among their claims is that, after escaping the rig, they had to wait for rescue alongside the blazing structure "for over 10 hours ... knowing their friends were on it."

Two other wrongful-death lawsuits were filed within days of the explosion.



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