Petition for Changes to DOHSA and Jones Act That are Included in H.R.5503
On April 20, 2010 the world awoke to news of an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. As the families of the men that worked on the Deepwater Horizon awaited to find out their fate they had no way to know how much out dated laws would play in some of their lives. 11 men died in that explosion and it turned out to be the largest oil spill and environmental disaster in U.S. history. As the families of the fallen men began to try to put their lives back together they tried to find out who would be responsible for this traumatic event. Someone whether it is BP who leased the rig or Transocean who owned the rig needs to be held fully accountable for their loss. They found out that some laws enacted well before any of those involved were even born. DOHSA is the law under which the 11 families of the men that died on the Deepwater Horizon can bring wrongful death suits against BP. This law was passed in 1920 and limits BP’s liability to economic damages only. In most cases this means burial costs and the loss of support that family member would have provided. Under DOHSA, BP is not held fully accountable for entirely compensating the families for the horrendous way their loved ones died and the relationships lost. This archaic law places the worth of life to only loss of financial support and is also inconsistent. In 2000 the law was amended in response to the TWA Flight 800 crash but the same protections were not extended to individuals killed on vessels like the Transaction rig. DOHSA needs to be amended to provide equal remedies to victims of oil spills and other maritime disasters on the high seas, starting with the 11 men that died on the Deepwater Horizon. By placing my signature on this petition I support the following changes included in the “Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations of Liability Act” (SPILL Act/H.R.5503), sponsored by Chairman John Conyers and Rep. Charlie Melancon: • Amends DOHSA to allow recovery of noneconomic damages for maritime death victims’ families, starting with the 11 workers that died in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion; • Repeals the Limitation of Liability act, the antiquated 1851 law which allows Transocean to claim it is only responsible for $27 million in damages, the current worth of its now-destroyed rig, despite receiving over $400 million from its insurance company, and; • Amends the wrongful death claims falling under the Jones Act to provide the noneconomic damages of loss of care, comfort and companionship to surviving family members from the seamen’s employers.
Video of oilfield workers