AREAS OF PRACTICE
Did a boating injury leave you needing qualified and respected maritime accident lawyers in Louisiana? Talk to us at Martzell & Bickford and we'll help you get what you deserve. Let us take care of your legal needs so that you can focus your attention solely on your recovery.
For more than 30 years, our firm has represented victims of boating catastrophes, including nearly 1000 merchant seamen in claims for hearing loss and asbestos and chemical exposures. We also represented some 1200 employees of the Treasure Chest Casino who were injured from exposure to excessive fumes on the casino vessel. The firm has also represented numerous brown water and blue water seaman for personal injuries sustained during their employment, and continues to represent offshore workers in cases of exposure to welding fumes, asbestos and other dangerous and deadly toxins, as well as longshoremen who are injured while working on-board vessels and on the adjacent wharves.
Our firm has been counsel in some of the most prominent disaster cases litigated in the state. Additionally, the firm has represented many individuals in accidents involving small boats and other water crafts. Some of the notable decisions are set forth below:
M/T Frosta Disaster
One of the worst disasters ever to occur in our state happened on October 20, 1976. The M/T Frosta, a Norwegian vessel, was involved in a collision with a ferry boat, the George Prince, in the Mississippi River near Luling. The collision resulted in 75 deaths and 12 injuries. John R. Martzell served on the seven man trial committee that litigated the claims. Payments to the victims and to the survivors’ families totaled in excess of $26 million dollars. The case is reported at McKeithen v. [M/T] Frosta, 435 F.Supp. 572 (E.D.La. 1977).
P&E Boat Rental Collision
In January 1983 a tragic collision of the two crew boats, the Marie Elise and Miss Bridget, occurred in the heavy fog on the Mississippi River south of Venice, LA. Four passengers on the Miss Bridget were killed, and five others aboard that vessel, including its skipper, were seriously injured. The Miss Bridget was rendered a total loss. Scott Bickford and John Martzell tried the case on behalf of the family of one of the victims to a multi-million dollar verdict. In the Matter of P & E Boat Rentals, Inc., 872 F. 2d 642 (5th Cir. 1989)
Duck Boat Collision
In January 1998, a retired executive and his wife were aboard a small duck hunting vessel on their way to a duck camp in South Louisiana. A crew-boat owned by Tidewater Marine, an offshore service company, ran down the small duck boat, causing it to capsize and trapping its unfortunate passengers underwater. In addition to attending and participating in an extensive Coast Guard investigation of the casualty, our attorneys instituted extensive litigation that ultimately resulted in substantial confidential settlements.
Freeport Fishermen Toxic Exposure Case
A group of fisherman, now known as the Freeport Fishermen, were tying off their fishing vessel to an offshore platform that was owned and operated by Freeport Sulphur company, now Freeport McMoran. Freeport discharged large amount of highly dangerous sulphur dioxide gas from its sulphur mining operations. The gas was supposed to have been discharged well below the surface of the water so that it would dissipate and not cause any harm. For months, however, the pipe that took the gas under the water had been severed about 2 feet above the water’s surface. As a result, the unsuspecting Fishermen were exposed to a massive quantity of the gas and literally fell unconscious on the deck of their vessel. Had the vessel not drifted away from the rig, they would have died; instead, they suffered serious brain damage. The case was litigated to a very successful settlement with Freeport.
Conoco Fishermen Gas Fire Case
In 1992, a group of over 15 family members and friends chartered the M/V Early Bird for a deep sea fishing trip out of Venice, Louisiana. During the trip, the vessel moored next to a platform in the Gulf of Mexico operated by Conoco, Inc. The vessel was moored next a gas blow down line that was suppose to expel overflow gas under the water. However, the blow down line did not extend underwater but discharged odorless, tasteless gas on the water’s surface. The unsuspecting fishermen were consumed in flames when the gas was ignited by a fisherman who lit a cigarette. As a result, many of the fishermen sustained serious burn injuries, with one having burns over more than 60 percent of his body. Other members of the fishing party sustained other personal injuries as well as serious emotional distress from being in the incident. The case was successfully litigated and a substantial confidential settlement was reached with the owners and operator of the platform and the owner and operator of the vessel.
Diver Injured On McDermott Lay Barge
In 1986, a diving supervisor in a helicopter was lifting off McDermott Lay Barge off the coast of California. The skids on the helicopter got caught in the safety net on the barge’s deck, causing the pilot to lose control of the helicopter. As a result, the diving supervisor was thrown from the helicopter and impaled through his chest on a hook protruding from a ladder on the barge. He also sustained serious other bodily injuries including multiple fractures to his leg that required amputation. The case was tried to a multi-million dollar verdict before a federal jury in New Orleans.
Deckhand Injured On The Tom Bigby Waterway
In 1989 a young deckhand on a tug boat that was handling the transportation of barges on Alabama’s Tom Bigby waterway was injured when the tug boat was moving into position to move some barges. The deckhand fell between the tug boat and barge and was crushed. He sustained a serious hip fracture and internal pelvic injuries. The case was litigated to a substantial confidential settlement with the owner of the tug boat.
Asbestos-Related Malignancy Cases
Our firm has represented numerous marine engineers and merchant seamen for occupational exposure to asbestos. These occupational exposures have resulted in the development of malignancies including mesothelioma and lung cancer. In addition to successful settlement of many asbestos-related malignancy claims, we have also tried numerous cases in state and federal courts for victims of mesothelioma and lung cancer, resulting in numerous verdicts totaling in the millions of dollars.
Mississippi River Oil Spill
Our firm, through its principal, Scott R. Bickford, sits on the appointed committee that oversees the litigation arising out of the spill of diesel fuel on the Mississippi River in July of 2008.
If you are searching for maritime accident lawyers in Louisiana, turn to the best at the office of Martzell & Bickford. Contact us today to learn more.