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Lawsuits filed against dredge operating company

Pipeline explosion
Posted at 6:12 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 22:18:03-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In the wake of Friday’s tragic pipeline explosion, the families of some of the victims have filed lawsuits against the company responsible for operating the dredge that hit the pipeline.

So far, the Buzbee Law Firm has filed four suits in Harris County against Orion Marine Construction.

Three of the suits are for wrongful death, brought by the estates of Joel Rivera, Miguel Martinez, and Rafael Espinoza. Each seeks $50 million in damages.

The fourth suit, an injury case brought by Jose Delgado, seeks $10 million.

“This event was not an accident, it was the result of management making poor choices and poor decisions which led to a very tragic outcome,” said attorney Chris Leavitt.

Leavitt said his firm has represented victims in 30 to 40 cases against Orion in the last 10 years.

According to court records, Orion currently has seven pending lawsuits, not including ones filed since Friday. They range from auto crashes to one incident where an explosion happened next to a worker.

The suits filed in response to Friday’s incident allege negligence by Orion leading up to the explosion.

"What we’re being told is that the survey that the dredging crew was using to know where to dredge did not have the pipeline that exploded on it,” Leavitt said.

When asked why the pipeline wasn’t on the survey, a Port of Corpus Christi spokesperson said the port doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Meanwhile, Leavitt calls Friday's explosion one of the worst dredging incidents he's seen. It's one he believes could have been avoided.

"It’s unclear as to why a pipeline of that size would not have been on a survey which is obviously a very important part of a dredging operation,” he said.

In a statement, an Orion spokesperson said the company is also unable to comment on pending litigation.