Bouchard B-255 USCG Hearing


#62

If a ‘wilful misconduct on the part of the Member’ is legally established, it is doubtful, whether the P & I will cover anything, fines or other claims.

At least the big P & I Club ‘Gard’, in its Rule 72, lets think so >>>
http://www.gard.no/web/publications/document/chapter?p_subdoc_id=20748045&p_document_id=20747880

Hence, they can only prove the allegations as wrong… or go into bankruptcy.


#63

I think it goes without saying, but anyone who works or has worked for Bouchard knows that safety is not priority. Money is the priority. Im sure we have all seen it in the industry but more so at Bouchard. Its a dam shame that men and women have to risk their lives to make the bean counter’s “bottom line”. No matter what comes of this, in the end it will most likely mean more regulation across the board and pay cuts for the mariners at bouchard.

The Bouchard company and family have a reputation, and most of what is said is true. I know first hand from both the mariner’s perspective and the office’s. As a while, I think the industry would be better off without either.


#64

A Fine-Its just money. A slap on the wrist and Bouchard will go on with no changes until Morty exits the building. Without that, business as usual, with virtually no experience in the office because there is almost no one left he hasn’t hired and either fired or forced them to run. Business will resume and all the customers who talk a good game when it comes to safety and maintenance will come back because it is all smoke and mirrors on both sides. Even though the smoke has cleared around Bouchard and a clear view is available, the customers will come back.


#65

Bouchard is too big to fail. No one else is ready to take Bouchard’s place today, or next year. The customers don’t have any choice.

From an actuarial perspective, Bouchard is probably still a proven low financial and low insurance risk performer. The caring about people and safety is just window dressing. The big companies only care about money.


#66

I think Kirby and Vane easily have enough boats tied up between them to take over their work. And I’m sure they (and others) are chomping at the bit, ready to take it from Bouchard.


#67

Rumor has it that the B-295 that’s been in Tampa for a year or so may never sail as a Barge in Oil Service.

From what I’ve been told she has a lot of problems steel wise and it might not be worth fixing it.

My thought is that see what comes out in the Hearing, the CG might be walking around with a Magnifying Glass and a Big Surveyors Hammer.


#68

B295 will come out after throwing a lot of money at it.
B275 in Morgan City maybe not.
B285 in Galveston-who knows.
They all have the same issues from the same design and the same maintenance program.


#69

B265 in operation and about as pretty as the B255


#70

What’s going on with Kirby on the west coast? I don’t pass so many of their boats anymore.


#71

From what I heard they have sold/are selling a lot of equipment and have lost a few contracts. Someone was telling me they just splashed a new 80k bbl unit?


#72

Kirbys inland division has been going wild. So far this year, they’ve spent about $450 million in 2 transactions, the larger one being buying out Higman. I have made it no secret my hatred for Bouchard, which is based solely on this and previous barge explosions, I call it white collar crime. I think this should be our industry’s Donald Sterling moment - lets kick this asshole out of the industry. The mention of Kirby was the first time I thought this could be a match. Kirby certainly has the financial resources to buy them out, IF they are forced to sell. This would be a win win situation. Any sale of Bouchard will be a nice payout for the Bouchard family. This way they can buy a small island in the middle of nowhere and blow up all the barges they want.


#73

BTW, my company has computer based training. They actually pay you to report Near Misses. If you fill out a Near Miss every month, it adds up to about $20/year added to your safety bonus (which actually can get quite high for Captains). While this isn’t much, its night and day between the 2. One company threatens and intimidates employees about reporting unsafe condition while they other rewards employees for doing the same.


#74

HEY UNITED STATES COAST GUARD it was great to wake up this morning and be alive.


#75

This shit cracks me up. Actually it doesn’t. LETS HAMMER BOUCHARD


#76

What’s going on with the two Bouchard tugs that’s have been sitting at bollinger Algiers for months? No barges in sight.


#77

From gCaptain# Bouchard Transportation Lawsuit: Safety Record Not Relevant in Deadly Barge Explosion Investigation


A Corpus Christi Fire Department vessel attempts to extinguish a fire onboard a barge approximately three miles from the Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. A Coast Guard Corpus Christi MH-65 Dolphin and HC-144 Ocean Sentry are searching for two missing crewmembers. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Bouchard Transportation of Melville, New York, wants the Coast Guard’s investigation limited to the loaded oil barge which exploded in 2017 off the coast of Texas, killing two deckhands. But the Coast Guard took testimony about the recent history of maintenance and safety issues of the company’s fleet, calling the evidence relevant to its analysis of the fatal explosion. Coverage of the Coast Guard’s hearing on the incident can be found here.

By Barbara Liston (Clearview Post) – A New York-based shipping company has sued in federal court to rein in a U.S. Coast Guard investigation into the cause of a 2017 explosion of a loaded oil barge off the coast of Texas that killed two seamen.

Bouchard Transportation claimed in a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Houston that its shipping customers were monitoring a Coast Guard public hearing in July into the cause of the explosion.

The company said that its reputation was being irreparably harmed by the testimony, which was live streamed over the internet, according to the complaint filed midway through the hearing by company lawyer David James of Clark Hill Strasburger in Beaumont.

The company cited testimony from current and former employees concerning safety being a “middle” priority for Bouchard, a stressful and intimidating work atmosphere, high employee turnover rate and general “unsafe” conditions on Bouchard vessels.

The company also said testimony by current and former employees about Bouchard’s safety culture amounted to a “character attack.”

Bouchard sought an emergency order to temporarily shut down the hearing. Although Judge Gray Miller refused to stop the proceedings, the lawsuit remains pending over the scope of the evidence to be considered in the Coast Guard’s final report.

Zachariah Jackson, 28, of Salt Lake City, and Du’jour Vanterpool, 26, of Houston, died after Bouchard’s Barge No. 255 caught fire and exploded as it was getting underway to a refinery in Corpus Christi.

Bouchard argued that the Coast Guard exceeded its authority by eliciting testimony about the company’s fleet and operations in general over the past two decades rather than limiting the inquiry to the single oil barge and explosion.

“Since it is being broadcast live over the internet, Bouchard’s customers are observing Bouchard being accused of virtually every form of wrongdoing and safety violation in its entire history; all under the guise and purported authority of a single marine accident, aboard a single vessel, in October 2017 which is getting very little attention,” the motion for a temporary restraining order stated.

Along with current and former Bouchard employees, professional ship inspectors testified during the two-week-long hearing in Houston, and thousands of documents were compiled.

After evaluating the evidence, the Coast Guard will issue a final report on the cause of the accident and deaths, recommendations to prevent a recurrence and evidence, if any, of violations of the law.

Bouchard also objected in its lawsuit to the Coast Guard granting interested party status to victims of the explosion, including the families of the dead seamen, who are suing the company. Interested parties are given access to collected evidence.

Jackson’s parents are suing Bouchard for more than $1 million. The family alleges the vessels were “improperly maintained, dangerous, unseaworthy, and otherwise unfit for the purpose they were being used,” according to the complaint filed in state court in Corpus Christi by Kurt Arnold of Arnold & Itkin in Houston.

Vanterpool’s survivors also have sued in state court in Houston.

Bouchard is trying to block the families’ lawsuits by seeking protection in federal court under a 167-year-old law written in the era of wooden Clipper ships to protect commercial ship owners from paying the full cost of damages in an accident.

The Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 limits the potential damage payout to the post-accident value of a ship plus the value of the ship’s freight – but only if the ship owner lacked knowledge of the problem or conduct leading to the accident.

In response to Bouchard’s petition for protection under the law in the U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi, Jackson’s attorneys say Jackson informed company management of multiple problems on the B255 barge in the weeks before the explosion, and asked multiple times for repairs to be made.

Bouchard has a “documented history of failing to operate their barges in a safe manner and putting the crew of their barges at grave risk,” Arnold wrote.

Bouchard also wants the court to prohibit the Jackson family from seeking damages for the pain and suffering that the family says Jackson endured before his death. The company suggests the he likely died instantly from shrapnel from the explosion.

However, the families are fighting back with a report by Kendall Von Crowns, deputy medical examiner in Houston. Crowns concluded that Jackson likely was engulfed in fire long enough for his shoes to burn and melt before being hit by shrapnel and blown into the Gulf of Mexico where he likely died from a combination of drowning and bleeding to death. His body was never found.

Bouchard is seeking to limit its total damage payout from the explosion under the limitation law to $5,952,151. The figure is based on an appraisal obtained by the company of the 39-year-old tugboat Buster Bouchard, which was pinned to barge B255 at the time of the explosion, which estimated its value at $5.7 million, plus the cargo valued at $252,151.

The most famous application of the limitation law occurred in 1912 after the sinking of the Titanic when damages were limited to $92,000 – or $41 for each living or dead passenger – based on the value of a few salvaged life boats and earnings from the voyage.

A bench trial is set for Jan. 14, 2019 at which Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will decide whether the limitation law applies in the Bouchard barge explosion and whether to grant partial summary judgment on pain and suffering damages.

Links to articles covering last month’s Coast Guard hearing:

Part 1: ‘I Was Hearing Blasts Every Second

Part 2: ‘He Slipped Out of His Life Jacket and Sank to the Bottom’

Part 3: Conflicting Testimony and Disputed Phone Calls

Part 4: Former Bouchard VP ‘Shocked’ at Condition of Barge 255

Part 5: ‘No one could say they didn’t know about the problems’

Part 6: Final Day – ‘Sitting On a Big Powder Keg’


#78

Having the company’s reputation being irreparable harmed should be the least of their problems. Top management deserves to go to jail.


#79

There is a saying…
When you are in a hole … stop digging.

Their attempts to stop the CG from looking at their general safety record will only make things worse. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.,


#80

That’s despicable.


#81

It’s subtle, but there is a difference between blocking the lawsuit filed by the victinms, and blocking their claims.

Bouchard is seeking limitation of liability. While this may result in dismissal of the victims’ separate actions, it isn’t blocking the claims of anyone. Limitation forces all claimants to pursue their remedies in the limitation action, not in individual suits. The limiation action doesn’t preclude the victims’ claims, it changes the venue in which they are heard. And, of course, it seeks to limit the amount that can be recovered. But it does not block the claims.