TX: Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Gulf Oil Rig Explosion, Fire

HOUSTON, TX - Attorneys with the Houston trial law firm Arnold & Itkin LLP yesterday filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of Aaron Dale Burkeen, one of 11 men still missing after the recent oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

A resident of Philadelphia, Miss., Mr. Burkeen worked as a crane operator on the Deepwater Horizon, a massive oil rig owned by Swiss-based Transocean Ltd. and operated by UK-based BP PLC.

On April 20, Mr. Burkeen was operating the crane on deck before the first explosion rocked the rig. His responsibilities included getting other crew members to safety. He is believed to have been tragically killed in the second blast.

The family of Mr. Burkeen, including his wife and two children, are represented by Houston maritime attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin, along with Mississippi attorney Jay M. Kilpatrick, a shareholder in Young Williams P.A. According to the attorneys, the Deepwater Horizon was unseaworthy, and the defendants were negligent in failing to properly maintain the rig and failing to meet federal safety standards.

"Oil rig workers face some of the most dangerous working conditions in the world. That's why companies like Transocean and BP have rules they must follow to protect every worker," says Mr. Arnold. "When companies break the rules, Aaron and families like his suffer the consequences."

The lawsuit also includes claims on behalf of three Louisiana men who were seriously injured while working on the Deepwater Horizon. Two of those men were Transocean employees who worked with Mr. Burkeen every day, and one was with him at the time of the explosions.

"It is unbelievable that the company wouldn't take these men to shore after pulling them from this burning rig," says Mr. Itkin. "They sat out there for more than 10 hours and watched their rig burn and fall into the ocean knowing that some of their friends did not escape."

The lawsuit, Joshua Kritzer, et al. v. Transocean, Ltd. et al., No. 62,738, was filed May 4, 2010, in the County Court at Law No. 3 in Galveston County, Texas.

Source: Arnold & Itkin LLP