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 September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

TOTE Finalizes Charter for LNG Containerships

World’s first LNG powered containerships to serve Puerto Rico TOTE, Inc. announced an agreement today between its operating companies TOTE Shipholdings Inc.

Hamburg Süd Opens Office in India

Hamburg Süd announced the opening of an office in Gandhidham, India, on October 1, 2014. It is the second branch office in the state of Gujarat. Hamburg Süd already has three offices in Mumbai,

GAC Marine Logistics Shifts Central Office to Singapore

In a move that brings it closer to key Asian markets, ship spares logistics specialist GAC Marine Logistics (GML) has relocated its head office to Singapore. The

Legal

Dredging the River Elbe: Waiting for Luxembourg

Decision delayed on the Deepening and Widening of the Navigation Channel of the Lower and Outer Elbe The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig today adjourned

New Inspection Requirement for Ships in Paris MOU

Lloyd’s Register advises that the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Maritime Administration has issued Circular No. PSC 033 which requires additional inspections (termed

Yara Completes Acquisition of OFD Holding

Yara International ASA has obtained relevant regulatory approvals and closed the acquisition of OFD Holding Inc. (OFD) allowing the integration process to start.

Marine Power

Mitsubishi Engines Running Strong after 11 Years

As proof of its commitment to providing the right products and the right service, engines Laborde Products supplied over a decade ago are still going strong. When

New Propulsion Couplings to Launch at Workboat

Renold Hi-Tec Couplings, of Halifax, U.K., will debut a new range of high temperature, marine propulsion rubber-in-compression couplings on booth 3809 at the International

TOTE Finalizes Charter for LNG Containerships

World’s first LNG powered containerships to serve Puerto Rico TOTE, Inc. announced an agreement today between its operating companies TOTE Shipholdings Inc.

Casualties

Recipitents of Australian Search and Rescue Awards

Five Tasmania Police officers will be recognised for their outstanding contribution to search and rescue tonight at this year’s Australian Search and Rescue Awards in Sydney.

US Aircraft Carrier Crew Rescues Fishermen

Sailors and Marines aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) assisted two fishermen aboard a fishing vessel engulfed in flames off the east coast of Florida, Sept.

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

People in the News

Recipitents of Australian Search and Rescue Awards

Five Tasmania Police officers will be recognised for their outstanding contribution to search and rescue tonight at this year’s Australian Search and Rescue Awards in Sydney.

Holland America Line's Enticing Offers for Cruise Vacation

Holland America Line is planning special promotions for National Cruise Vacation Week (NCVW), which runs Oct. 6-13, 2014. Organized by Cruise Lines International Association,

Vallianz Acquires OER Holdings for $28m

Vallianz Holdings Limited, a provider of offshore support vessels and integrated marine solutions to the oil and gas industry, has today announced that it is acquiring OER Holdings Pte.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 0.1978 sec (5 req/sec)