The widow of the Seacor Power's captain is accusing the doomed lift boat's owner of ordering the captain and his crew to sail into stormy conditions before its deadly capsizing in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month.
Yvette Ledet, wife of Capt. David Ledet, made the allegation in a lawsuit which she filed Wednesday at the federal courthouse in New Orleans. It contradicts an earlier public statement from the CEO of Seacor Marine Holdings Inc., owner of the ill-fated vessel, who asserted that the decision to depart from Port Fourchon on April 13 was “entirely the captain's.”
Yvette Ledet's suit accuses Seacor Marine and Talos Energy, the operator of the offshore oil platform where the Power was headed, of negligence. She demanded an unspecified amount of damages for various reasons, including emotional pain and suffering.
The 234-foot Seacor Power turned over two weeks ago as it headed for a Talos oil platform east of Venice, La. The vessel was headed into an area that forecasters warned would be experiencing tropical storm-force winds and dangerous waves. But the hurricane-force winds and destructive waves which the vessel ultimately ran into were much more intense than anticipated.
Rescuers saved six of the Seacor Power's 19 crewmen the day it capsized. The bodies of another six — including that of David Ledet — have been recovered, and the seven remaining crewmen remained unaccounted for as of Thursday.
Yvette Ledet's lawsuit recounts how her husband, of Thibodaux, was attempting to help save others when he “was thrown into the sea.” Though “he fought for his life,” his body was recovered the next day with “severe burns and other debilitating injuries,” said the suit, which didn't offer an exact cause for the wounds cited.“Despite (weather) warnings, the defendants put their profits over the safety and lives of their employees and crew members and ordered the Seacor Power to leave Port Fourchon,” the suit argued. The suit didn't specify how Yvette Ledet or her attorneys might know about exactly what orders had been given to her late husband or his crew.
Neither Seacor Marine nor Talos Energy immediately responded to requests for comment on Yvette Ledet's suit.
At a news conference six days after the Power overturned, Seacor CEO John Gellert said, “The go/no-go decision is entirely the captain's.”
“The captain can rely on us, everyone ashore, or weather reports for advice, but ultimately it's his decision,” Gellert said. “The captain had 50 years of experience. … He was one of our best captains and very prudent and conservative. We are very confident he would not have gone out if he had any doubt whatsoever.”
For its part, Talos has previously said that the Seacor Power “was fully under the command of its captain and Seacor Marine, including when to depart the port.”
Yvette Ledet's filing follows similar lawsuits from the families of two Seacor Power crewmen who remained missing as of Thursday as well as of another who had been recovered dead.
Two of those prior cases were filed in a Texas state courthouse in Houston, where Talos is based. The third was filed in a Louisiana state court in St. Mary Parish, where the family of the crewman involved is from.The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the Seacor Power tragedy is ongoing.