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

People & Company News

Illegal Fishing Threatens to Revive Somali Piracy

Somali officials say foreign ships plundering fish stocks; Somali piracy greatly reduced due to security measures. A rise in illegal fishing off Somalia could spark a resurgence in piracy,

USCG Rescues 9 from Canadian Tall Ship

Coast Guard search and rescue crews from Station Gloucester, Air Station Cape Cod and the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke rescued nine crewmembers from the Canadian

MOL to Name New Chairman, President

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. today announced the appointment of a new chairman and president.   Current President and Representative Director Koichi Muto will assume

Legal

Illegal Fishing Threatens to Revive Somali Piracy

Somali officials say foreign ships plundering fish stocks; Somali piracy greatly reduced due to security measures. A rise in illegal fishing off Somalia could spark a resurgence in piracy,

BP Terminates GoM Rig Contracts

BP terminated contracts for two deepwater oil drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico as the British oil company slashes its exploration budget due to fallen oil prices.

USCG Approves Korean BWMS

Korean Register (KR) - an IACS member classification society – announces that it has been accepted by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) as an Independent Laboratory (IL) to undertake tests,

Marine Power

Methanol Powered Ferry Launched in Baltic Sea

Swedish ferry operator Stena Line has announced that it has converted the Stena Germanica to run on methanol, an industry first.   The company spent $24 million on converting the ship to methanol.

MAN Demonstrates Two-Stroke Methanol Engine Concept

MAN Diesel & Turbo successfully demonstrated its ME-LGI concept engine in front of customers and partners at its Diesel Research Center in Copenhagen on March 17th, the company announced today.

Shipbuilding First: Strategic Delivers StratCat to Njord Offshore

Strategic Marine delivered a world’s first to European windfarm service sector operator, Njord Offshore.  This vessel builds on the success of the first eight

Casualties

USCG Rescues 9 from Canadian Tall Ship

Coast Guard search and rescue crews from Station Gloucester, Air Station Cape Cod and the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke rescued nine crewmembers from the Canadian

U.S. Oil Train Traffic mostly from Midwest to East Coast

U.S. oil trains delivered more than 13.5 million barrels of crude oil from the Midwest to the East Coast in January, according to government data that gives a first

Amid Yemen Chaos, China Lifts More Oil

China has managed to export a large shipment of crude oil from Yemen over the weekend, ship-tracking data showed on Monday, despite mounting chaos in the country

People in the News

Illegal Fishing Threatens to Revive Somali Piracy

Somali officials say foreign ships plundering fish stocks; Somali piracy greatly reduced due to security measures. A rise in illegal fishing off Somalia could spark a resurgence in piracy,

BP Terminates GoM Rig Contracts

BP terminated contracts for two deepwater oil drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico as the British oil company slashes its exploration budget due to fallen oil prices.

USCG Rescues 9 from Canadian Tall Ship

Coast Guard search and rescue crews from Station Gloucester, Air Station Cape Cod and the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke rescued nine crewmembers from the Canadian

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
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: 0.3609 sec (3 req/sec)