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

People & Company News

USCG Medevacs 80 Yr-Old Near Lake Michigan

A Coast Guard aircrew medically evacuated an 80-year-old man off Beaver Island in Lake Michigan Sunday night. The man’s name is not being released. At 5:40 p.

Terex Scoops 2 IBJ Awards

Terex® Quaymate M50 mobile harbour crane is Crane of the Year – Dr. Mathias Dobner honored Rotterdam/Düsseldorf, 24 November 2014 – Terex Port Solutions (TPS)

CBP P-3 Disrupts Attempt to Smuggle cocaine

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine P-3 aircrew operating out of National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC)-Jacksonville, Florida,

Legal

CBP P-3 Disrupts Attempt to Smuggle cocaine

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine P-3 aircrew operating out of National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC)-Jacksonville, Florida,

Rawicz-12 Well Spuds

San Leon Energy, the AIM listed company focused on oil and gas exploration in Europe and North Africa, announces the spud of the Rawicz-12 appraisal well yesterday

BHP Billiton Focus on Operation & Productivity

* BHP Billiton is now targeting US$4 billion of annualised productivity gains in its core portfolio by the end of the 2017 financial year, a US$500 million increase on previous guidance.

Marine Power

Sea Star Line: Equipment Replacement Plan on Track

Company Receives New Refrigerated Containers and Places Order for New Genset Equipment   Sea Star Line, LLC began receiving the first of its new 100 40’ and 45’

Pair of ASD Tugboats Delivered to Keppel-Smit

The ASD tugs KST Passion and KST Pride were were delivered to their owner, Keppel-Smit Towage Pte. Ltd of Singapore in October 2014. The two vessels are the first

Shell Launches Naturelle Stern Tube Fluid

Shell has launched its new range of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs), including Shell Naturelle S4 Stern Tube Fluid 100.   The Shell Naturelle range

Casualties

USCG Medevacs 80 Yr-Old Near Lake Michigan

A Coast Guard aircrew medically evacuated an 80-year-old man off Beaver Island in Lake Michigan Sunday night. The man’s name is not being released. At 5:40 p.

USCG Assist Duck Hunters Near Harrington Beach Park

The Coast Guard and the Port Washington and Cedar Grove Fire Departments came to the assistance of two duck hunters on Lake Michigan Friday. The names of those involved are not being released.

7 Rescued from Sinking Freighter Near Haiti

Seven crewmembers were rescued after their 100-foot coastal freighter began taking on water and sank approximately 45 miles north off of Cap Haitien, Haiti, Friday.

People in the News

USCG Medevacs 80 Yr-Old Near Lake Michigan

A Coast Guard aircrew medically evacuated an 80-year-old man off Beaver Island in Lake Michigan Sunday night. The man’s name is not being released. At 5:40 p.

Terex Scoops 2 IBJ Awards

Terex® Quaymate M50 mobile harbour crane is Crane of the Year – Dr. Mathias Dobner honored Rotterdam/Düsseldorf, 24 November 2014 – Terex Port Solutions (TPS)

CBP P-3 Disrupts Attempt to Smuggle cocaine

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine P-3 aircrew operating out of National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC)-Jacksonville, Florida,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Port Authority Ship Repair 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: 0.3303 sec (3 req/sec)