Suit Against Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. to Go to Trial
After its second attempt at having the case dismissed, Houston based Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. will appear in court as defendant in a case involving an employee seeking compensation under the Jones Act. The employee is being represented by Arnold & Itkin LLP attorneys Jason Itkin, Cory Itkin and Kyle Findley. The original suit was filed in 2012 when the plaintiff, an employee of Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., was injured while working on a mobile offshore drilling unit in a Malaysian shipyard. After the suit was filed, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. tried to have the case against them dropped, claiming that it could have been filed overseas. They claimed that, because the employee actually worked for its Bermuda affiliate and was injured on a rig that was permanently assigned to Australia, the laws of Texas and even the United States did not apply to the case. Therefore, they pushed for the case to be dropped in order for it to be filed in the "proper venue."
However, after the First District Court of Appeals had not accepted the argument forum non conveniens and denied Diamond its petition for a writ of mandamus, the company took its complaints to the higher court, namely the Supreme Court of Texas, where it was once again rejected with little explanation. It is likely that the arguments of the plaintiff's party, which pointed out that the Houston-based defendant had indeed claimed the plaintiff as an employee despite his location oversees. Furthermore, the owner of the rig, Diamond Offshore General Co., on which the incident took place in Malaysia was also a Houston-based company. Therefore, while the defendant attempted to claim that the case had little to do with the state of Texas, the status of employment qualified the court to have jurisdiction over the case.
Arnold & Itkin's client was working on the Ocean General, a mobile drilling unit owned by Diamond Offshore General Co. The unit was undergoing repairs on shipyard in Malaysia when the plaintiff, who was inspecting a pontoon of the rig, was struck on the head by a heavy object. Diamond Offshore is claiming that the fallen object may have come from the Malaysian crew that had been working on scaffolding directly overhead the location of said pontoon.
The plaintiff's party will be pursuing damages from Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. under the Jones Act in trial before Texas court, which is set to begin on August 18.