Barge Crewmembers Sue Over Injuries Sustained in Hurricane Zeta

Hurricane Zeta was one of five named storms to strike Louisiana during the 2020 season (NOAA)

Published Nov 17, 2020 5:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two contractors who were working aboard a derrick barge in Louisiana during Hurricane Zeta have filed suit against the operator, alleging that they were injured when the barge broke loose and drifted out into the Gulf of Mexico. 

On October 28, the barge Thor was moored at Port Fourchon with 18 crewmembers on board. The remainder had been evacuated due to the approach of Hurricane Zeta, including the medic. When the hurricane arrived, the barge's moorings failed and it was separated from an attending tugboat. It incurred several collisions or allisions as it drifted out to sea. Its anchor eventually caught and held, and it came to rest at a position about six miles offshore. 

Video taken from the bridge of a moored OSV shows the Thor narrowly missing the OSV's port quarter as it drifted by. 

The suit alleges that the owners "required the D/B Thor be tied off in an unsafe area to wait out the hurricane.” The two plaintiffs, galley stewards Lewis Andrews and Patrick Burnett, were ordered to stay on the vessel while it rode out the storm. Several of those on board, including Andrews and Burnett, allegedly sustained serious injuries and were unable to receive proper medical treatment until a rescue effort was made 14 hours later.

“There is no excuse for failing to evacuate the crew to shore. The companies involved had already evacuated their key personnel, and they intentionally left the remaining crew in a dangerous situation aboard the boat facing an incoming hurricane," said Kurt Arnold of Houston-based law firm Arnold & Itkin, counsel for Andrews and Burnett.