Nearly two decades of fighting for maritime workers
Since 2004, Arnold & Itkin has focused on one thing: helping others. Attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin set out to build a firm that would make a difference in the lives of the men and women who put everything on the line to keep America working —i n the nation’s oilfields, factories, offshore, plants, and refineries.
For Arnold & Itkin, maritime law has always held a special focus. Maritime workers face some of the most dangerous conditions and challenges that can put their safety and lives in harm’s way. The work is rewarding and exciting, but it comes with risks only worsened by companies that put production and profits over safety.
When this happens, Arnold & Itkin stands for injured seamen and their families.
When ships are lost to hurricanes, when oil platforms explode, when barges sink, and when seamen are injured, workers and their families turn to Arnold & Itkin’s maritime lawyers for the help they need.
The Deepwater Horizon Explosion
On April 20, 2010, the semisubmersible rig Deepwater Horizon was operating about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Macondo Prospect when, at about 9:45 pm, an explosion of seawater shot about 240 feet from the rig’s drilling riser. A combination of methane gas, mud, and water followed, leading to several explosions and a firestorm that claimed 11 lives. The Deepwater Horizon burned for 36 hours and eventually sank. The explosion also caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history, spewing more than 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean over a period of three months before the well was finally capped on July 15.
There were 126 crewmembers aboard the Deepwater Horizon when the rig exploded — 94 made it out by lifeboat and 17 were airlifted by helicopter. Some jumped from the burning rig — 11 didn’t make it.
The nightmare wasn’t over for the crew who made it off the Deepwater Horizon. Many had suffered physical and psychological injuries that would have a lasting impact. Unbelievably, after they were evacuated, crewmembers were taken to a hall and asked to sign a release. These people had experienced significant trauma, had not slept in days, and yet were asked to sign releases before they could go home. The company they worked for and thought would help instead only took steps to try to protect its own interests.
When it became apparent that their needs were not a priority to their employer or anyone else, nearly one-third of the Deepwater Horizon crew came to Arnold & Itkin. The firm successfully secured recoveries that ensured they and their families were taken care of for the rest of their lives.
The Loss of the El Faro
On Sept. 29, 2015, a cargo ship named El Faro left Jacksonville, Fla., for San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a crew of 33. On Oct. 1, she steamed straight into Hurricane Joaquin. All contact was lost with the 40-year-old vessel, and all crew was presumed dead. One month later, El Faro’s wreckage was found on the seafloor.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) uncovered several factors that led to the loss of El Faro. The vessel itself was in no condition to weather a severe tropical storm, and yet it steamed straight toward Joaquin’s eyewall—the most dangerous part of a hurricane. The vessel’s lifeboats were not adequate for the crew’s survival. El Faro should have changed course, but it didn’t.
Three of the widows of the lost crewmembers came to Arnold & Itkin for help. The firm’s attorneys successfully overcame attempts by the opposition to use the archaic Limitation of Liability Act, which was created in 1850 to protect vessel owners from losses caused by extreme weather and piracy. It would have drastically limited the recoveries that families of the lost crew were able to make after their unimaginable losses. Arnold & Itkin helped these three women find answers and secure life-changing recoveries.
Maritime Laws Should Protect Injured Seamen
Arnold & Itkin fights to protect offshore workers’ rights. Vessel owners and maritime employers are responsible for maintaining seaworthy vessels, providing appropriate safety gear, training employees, and implementing safe work practices. There is no excuse for a faulty deck winch that entraps a seaman’s foot, for a man lost overboard because he was working alone, or for a ship lost in a hurricane that a vessel owner knew was coming.
When the worst offshore disasters happen, Arnold & Itkin is there to see at-fault parties held accountable.
No matter what.
Arnold & Itkin | Main Location: 6009 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77007 | www.arnolditkin.com