The recent oil spill near Texas City on March 22 caused environmental problems, and prompted a massive cleanup process that is still underway. However, it prompted an even bigger legal mess.
A few days after the accident, Judge John Froeschner issued the warrant of seizure as a request of an attorney representing anglers and bait shop owners. The attorney claims that an unnamed shrimper “discovered a significant amount of oil on the captured shrimp. A closer inspection revealed that his entire catch was covered with oil.” The ship was freed after a $9.3 million bond and is now in a Houston shipyard undergoing repairs.
In exchange, the owner of the cargo vessel filed a petition to limit liability in oil spill cases. Attorney Sean O’Rourke, who filed the request for seizure, stated that he expected the request. However, he responded by filing with the courts that all claims be moved back to the federal court in Galveston.
The “responsible party” is the tugboat that was towing the barge, but it has not been determined who is at fault. However, a recent filing says that the vessel was speeding, despite the fog, and did not take evasive action, which proved it was “dangerous” and “unseaworthy.”
This legal chess match will last a long time.
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