Defective Marine Engine Leads to US$46-Million Legal Settlement

By George Backwell
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
George W. "Skip" Finkbohner: Photo credit Cunningham Bounds

A week before the start of a scheduled three week jury trial, the law firm of Cunningham Bounds, LLC apprises it obtained a $46,000,000 settlement for its clients, Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Company, Inc. and an international ship operator, in a product liability lawsuit filed against Caterpillar, Inc. for an explosion and fire caused by a defective engine onboard the M/V Sherman, a ship that was under construction at the time.    

Background
In October 2005, Bender Shipbuilding entered into a contract with the ship operator for the construction of a series of state-of-the-art vessels, including the M/V Sherman. The contract price for the M/V Sherman was almost $27 million. On May 14, 2008, while the vessel was still under construction, one of its 3516B Caterpillar marine engines threw a rod during routine testing, causing a massive fire that burned the ship to its hull.  Everyone who was on the ship at the time of the explosion was safely evacuated.

Lawsuit

In their lawsuit, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Caterpillar engine installed on the M/V Sherman was defective at the time of its original manufacture and delivery.  The engine that failed weighed 17,000 pounds, had thousands of parts, was the size of a commercial truck, and was severely damaged in the fuel fed fire that burned for almost 24 hours.

Discovery in the lawsuit revealed that the engine failure was caused by a missing oil plug. The missing plug was the size of a nickel, and had been left out of the crankshaft in the innermost part of the engine when it was manufactured. The missing oil plug starved part of the engine of oil, which led to the engine's catastrophic failure.  

"This was a hard fought case with highly regarded and very capable defense firms from New Orleans, Mobile, and Birmingham. The litigation took place in four courts, involved 40 depositions, required the testimony of over a dozen retained experts, and lasted for almost four years.  It is a credit to the hard work, persistence and professionalism of our entire team that we were able to find the missing proverbial needle in the haystack, and crack this case wide open," said Skip Finkbohner of Cunningham Bounds.

A resolution of this magnitude would not have been possible without the early efforts of Cunningham Bounds attorneys Steve Olen and Steve Nicholas, who handled the initial proceedings in the federal district and bankruptcy courts. Specifically, they fought and won critical battles over the appropriate forum for the litigation and which laws should apply.

George W. "Skip" Finkbohner of Mobile, Alabama-based Cunningham Bounds, LLC, along with his law partner, Lucy E. Tufts, served as co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs. Also representing the Plaintiffs were Victor T. Hudson and William W. Watts of Pipes Hudson & Watts, LLP.  
 

Maritime Reporter June 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Lifting Specialists Modulift, IMES form Joint Venture

Lifting industry specialists Modulift and IMES have formed a joint venture to offer an integrated management service to clients internationally.   The two companies

Chinese PM Inks 2 Agreements During CMA CGM Visit

The CMA CGM Group hosted the Chinese Prime Minister, the French Foreign Affairs Minister and a ministerial delegation at its headquarters in Marseilles, July 1, the global shipping company announced.

Shell Green Lights GoM Field After Cost Cuts

Royal Dutch Shell has given the green light for the development of its largest platform in the Gulf of Mexico after making steep cost cuts which made the deep water

Legal

European Court Ups Standards for River Dredging

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Wednesday that damage to water quality must be considered when authorities approve river dredging to expand ports,

Union Vows More Channel Tunnel Disruption

Ferry workers will disrupt traffic through the sub-sea Channel tunnel between France and Britain for 48 hours from midday on Thursday, a union official said. "We

Statoil to Suspend Saipem Rig Contract

Norwegian oil major Statoil said on Wednesday it will suspend a rig contract with Italy's Saipem due to overcapacity in its rig portfolio. The suspension of

Marine Power

Yanmar Diesel Engines for Fast New Crew Tender

The expansion of the number of wind turbines out at sea near the northern Dutch coast was reason enough for Ubels Offshore to expand its fleet with a fifth ship last year.

Hapag-Lloyd's New Noses Lower Emissions

Hamburg based shipping company Hapag-Lloyd plans for 24 of the largest containerships in its fleet to get new bulbous bows by 2016, with some of the vessels also

The Hour of Power: Hybrid Marine Technology and Green Ports

In 2015 two significant developments are going to make many operators, owners and builders of professional vessels consider hybrid marine power. Firstly the new emissions laws in ports,

Casualties

SUNY Maritime to Host e-Navigation Conference

The e-Navigation Underway 2015 – North America conference will be hosted by The State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College from September 28 to 30 on the college’s Throggs Neck, N.

Ex-BP Engineer Deserves New Gulf Spill Trial -US Appeals Court

A former BP Plc engineer deserves a new trial on an obstruction of justice charge related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

Coast Guard Monitoring Rocket Debris off US

The U.S. Coast Guard informs it is working with SpaceX and partner agencies to monitor the debris field of the exploded Falcon 9 rocket in the Atlantic Ocean more

People in the News

Chinese PM Inks 2 Agreements During CMA CGM Visit

The CMA CGM Group hosted the Chinese Prime Minister, the French Foreign Affairs Minister and a ministerial delegation at its headquarters in Marseilles, July 1, the global shipping company announced.

SUNY Maritime to Host e-Navigation Conference

The e-Navigation Underway 2015 – North America conference will be hosted by The State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College from September 28 to 30 on the college’s Throggs Neck, N.

Union Vows More Channel Tunnel Disruption

Ferry workers will disrupt traffic through the sub-sea Channel tunnel between France and Britain for 48 hours from midday on Thursday, a union official said. "We

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1765 sec (6 req/sec)