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.  
 


People & Company News

MobileOps Pursuing Maritime Business

Redmond, Wash. based MobileOps, Inc., a software company specializing in the design and development of maritime software applications (dispatch, safety, compliance,

Half a Century at Sea

Siegfried Schmerer already dreamed of becoming a captain as a young boy. Later, as a sailor on a coaster, he suffered from seasickness. Though he thought about giving up,

MN100: Shock Mitigation

The Company: The company provides marine organizations, boat builders and equipment manufacturers with relevant subject matter expertise plus an independent overview

Legal

Securing the Scorpene: DCNS to Move Court

The French shipbuilder DCNS plans to seek an injunction to prevent further publication of information contained in 22,400 secret documents about stealth submarines built for India,

SOS from Hanjin Shipping

The creditors' extended help is crucial for survival of Hanjin Shipping Co as its negotiations with owners of chartered ships over a cut in leasing rates and to

Hapag-Lloyd Shareholders Okays Merger with UASC

Hamburg-based ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd said its shareholders approved all items on the agenda at Annual General Meeting, mainly the  share capital increase needed

Marine Power

MN100: Cummins Marine, Inc.

The Company: Cummins, Inc. is a corporation of complementary business units that design, manufacture, distribute and service engines and related technologies, including fuel systems,

USS Freedom Suffers Casualty

The U.S. Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) experienced a casualty to one of its main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE) on July 11 reportedly

MN100: R.W. Fernstrum & Company

The Company: R.W. Fernstrum & Company set the standard in marine heat exchangers over 65 years ago, building a reputation focused on innovation. Today, its commitment is to continual improvement,

Casualties

Caribbean Fantasy Fire Extinguished

A fire that broke out aboard the passenger vessel Caribbean Fantasy at 7:42 a.m. on August 17 has been extinguished, and the vessel has been moored safely in port.

Passenger Vessel Allides with Pier in Baltimore

Passenger vessel Spirit of Baltimore struck the pier at Henderson Wharf Marina in Baltimore, Sunday morning, causing 60 feet of damage to the pier and cosmetic damage to the vessel’s hull.

USS Freedom Suffers Casualty

The U.S. Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) experienced a casualty to one of its main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE) on July 11 reportedly

People in the News

Half a Century at Sea

Siegfried Schmerer already dreamed of becoming a captain as a young boy. Later, as a sailor on a coaster, he suffered from seasickness. Though he thought about giving up,

Gasum, Wärtsilä Join Forces to develop Gas Value Chain

New joint co-operation between Gasum and Wärtsilä aims to develop the utilization and distribution of natural energy gases in marine and land markets. Gasum,

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Orders Two Vessels

TUI Group, the world’s number one tourism group, will invest in two new-builds for its Hamburg-based subsidiary Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. The two, new, 5-star expedition

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Repair Sonar Winch
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: 0.1048 sec (10 req/sec)