NEW ORLEANS – The owner of an offshore oil tanker that toppled Louisiana plans to use $ 25 million in insurance on the ship to pay off part of the Texas company’s debts.
Lawyers for the families of the men killed in the Seacor Power overthrow in April fear less money will be available to make up for their loss, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.
Six men were rescued, six bodies were found and seven men are missing and presumed dead after the sinking.
The Seacor Power was a “lift boat” fitted with legs that can be lowered to the ocean floor, raising the vessel itself above the water as a temporary working platform. According to National Transportation Safety Board investigators, it overturned as the crew lowered those legs and attempted to turn into high winds.
Seacor Marine Holdings Inc., of Houston, outlined its plan in securities filings last week, the newspaper reported. The deal with lender JP Morgan Chase Inc would use hull and machinery insurance on the boat to help pay two installments of $ 25 million and settle debt of more than $ 117 million.
Ian Taylor, a lawyer whose firm represents some survivors and families of victims, said he would seek to block the move and claim the proceeds from the body and machinery insurance himself.
The clients of this law firm are among those who have filed at least 14 lawsuits against Seacor Marine, its subsidiaries, and Talos Energy, owner of the oil platform where Seacor Power was heading.
Seacor Marine said it plans to pay around $ 15 million to the rescue company which searched for survivors and recently assessed the damage and made plans to recover the wreckage, the newspaper reported.
The Coast Guard said last week that rescue crews should cut up the boat, with a submersible barge sunk under each section as it was cut, then refloated to bring the section ashore.
The Coast Guard returned a call for an update to Seacor on Friday, which did not immediately respond to a request from the Associated Press.
The company filed a federal lawsuit to limit personal injury and death to a total of $ 5.7 million, under an 1851 maritime law covering circumstances against which the owner could not have foreseen or taken action. precautions.
Taylor, of Lewis Kullman Sterbcow and Abramson, said the company will challenge Seacor Marine’s attempt to limit liability and ask the court to add the $ 25 million insurance to the company’s liability fund.
Frank Spagnoletti, an attorney who has filed multiple lawsuits in Texas, said Seacor’s decision to protect the insurance payment would not play well with survivors.
“They will find it offensive that the company decided to limit its liability to $ 5.7 million but took care of its own financial situation before considering the victims and relatives of the dead,” he said. .
The company declined to comment more than the statement to investors.
In that statement, John Gellert, CEO of Seacor Marine, said: “We remain focused on our response to the Seacor Power incident and plan to complete the recovery efforts in July.”
“We continue to mourn our crew members, our partners and the loved ones of those who have been lost,” he added.