Tim, an employee of Diamond Offshore, was with his work crew on his way to a drilling rig off the coast of Africa. In the three days it took to travel from Houston, Texas to the work site, Tim was exhibiting symptoms of a serious sickness, including disorientation and headaches. Tim's co-workers did nothing to address this situation.
The day before the crew was set to be dispatched to the offshore rig, Tim was found dead in his hotel room in Malta. It was determined Tim died from meningitis.
Despite the fact Tim died on the job, Diamond Offshore did not offer his wife, Cindy, anything.
Cindy hired our law firm, and we filed a Jones Act lawsuit against Diamond Offshore here in Houston, Harris County, Texas, where Diamond Offshore has its headquarters. After conducting discovery in the lawsuit, we determined that Diamond did not do any pre-international trip medical exam, nor did it train its employees on how to handle a potential medical emergency. We alleged this was negligence under the Jones Act.
Diamond argued it was not negligent. It did not cause Tim to contract meningitis, and Tim's symptoms were not bad enough to warrant emergency medical procedures. Further, Diamond noted that it provided all of its employees, including Tim, with an "SOS" card that he should have called. By calling the numbers on the SOS card, Tim would have been able to be directed to proper medical care and he likely would have survived, Diamond argued.
Wrongful death cases under the Jones Act are typically difficult, because the applicable law only allows for "pecuniary" damages, such as lost wages and loss of support. Tim was nearing the end of his work career, so these figures were not as high as they would be if Tim had been younger when he died. Importantly, "wrongful death" type damages are not allowed in this scenario.
Diamond felt so good about its defenses that it refused to mediate the case. Diamond never offered anything to settle the case.
Brian and Sean tried the case to a jury. After five days of trial, the jury rendered its verdict yesterday: Diamond was negligent, and the damages were $280,000.
The lesson here: even if the defendant company decides not to offer anything to settle a case, we are entitled to bring the case to a jury to decide the case.