The Buzbee Law Firm, which represents nearly 1,000 individuals allegedly exposed to or adversely affected by spilled hydrogen sulfide in the Sabine Neches Waterway after a Jan. 23 collision of an oil tanker and a tugboat has announced the April 6 deadline for filing damage claims.
The Buzbee Law Firm intends to file such claims with the Court on Monday, April 5 related to the collision of the 807-foot oil tanker Eagle Otome with a barge being pushed by the vessel Dixieland Vengeance.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the collision resulted in a spill of an estimated 450,000 gallons of crude oil, or about 11,000 barrels.
Almost immediately after the collision, the owner of the Eagle Otome filed suit in federal court in Beaumont seeking to limit its liability. The Court has set a deadline of April 6 for filing of claims in that proceeding, according to a press release from the law firm.
According to Tony Buzbee, lead counsel for the claimants, “The oil spill was horrific, and could have disastrous long-term effects for the environment and property owners in the area. What is more troubling, however, is that, along with the spilled oil, the collision also resulted in the release of hydrogen sulfide.”
Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. Exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat. It may also cause difficulty in breathing for some asthmatics. Brief exposures to high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (greater than 500 ppm) can cause a loss of consciousness and possibly death. In most cases, the person appears to regain consciousness without any other effects. However, in many individuals, there may be permanent or long-term effects such as headaches, poor attention span, poor memory, and poor motor function.
Buzbee stated, “The April 6 claim deadline is important for anyone exposed to or affected by this chemical release. Once all claims are made, we intend to ask the Court to dismiss the Limitation Proceeding, because we do not believe the vessel owner and vessel manager are entitled to limit their liability in this incident.”
The Limitation Proceeding is “In the matter of the Complaint of AET Inc. Limited as Owner, and AET Shipmanagement (Singapore) PTE. Ltd. As Manager, of the M/V EAGLE OTOME, for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability,” CV No. 1: 10CV0051 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.
Port Arthur News
April 1, 2010
Port Arthur, Texas