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WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) In a move that would allow families of workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion to sue for noneconomic damages, the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1 passed H.R. 5503, the SPILL Act (Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations on Liability Act), a bill aimed at providing better compensation for maritime disaster victims.
The legislation passed the House by a voice vote and now moves to the U.S. Senate for approval.
The SPILL Act amends the Death on the High Seas Act and the Jones Act and repeals the Limitations of Liability Act. It focuses on reforming maritime laws to hold corporations accountable for negligently causing disasters such as the BP oil spill.
"The SPILL Act will modernize these laws to ensure that BP and other responsible parties are held fully accountable for their actions and to ensure that families of those killed or injured in the BP oil spill and other such tragedies are justly compensated for their losses," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press release.
The Limitations of Liability Act is an 1851 law that would have allowed Transocean to be responsible for just $27 million in damages, the value of its now-ruined Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
On April 20, an explosion and fire resulted in the destruction and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The accident caused the deaths of 11 men who were working on the rig. Since the accident, the uncapped well has spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
[Editor's Note: Full coverage will be in the July 12 issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Personal Injury. In the meantime, H.R. 5503 is available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844. Document #77-100712-009L. For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]
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For more information, call editor Chris Bauer at 610-205-1171, or e-mail him at email@example.com.