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Transocean Tries to Limit Liability

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Houston, TXTransocean's court application to limit its liability may have "bottled things up for now, but it has little chance of succeeding," says Texas attorney Kurt Arnold, whose firm represents several rig workers who were injured or killed when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew in April.

"I tell my clients to worry about getting better and trying to get on with their medical treatment and let us worry about the legal maneuvering."

"Arnold represents 10 oil rig workers who suffered serious injuries or traumatic stress, as well as the family of a man who lost his life in the accident. "Many of them have were injured when ceilings collapsed on them, or injuries from being blown across the deck," says Arnold. "They had a pretty unbelievable experience."

"They [Transocean] say one thing when they are talking to politicians and the cameras and they do another thing in court"
The Transocean application to limit liability is predicated on a 159-year-old maritime law that limits liability to the salvage value of a vessel. The estimated value of the Deepwater Horizon, according to the application, is $27 million. "Twenty seven million dollars to cover this mess is nothing," says Arnold, an attorney substantial experience in maritime law.

Transocean representatives said at a congressional hearing in Washington that the company wants to do everything it can to help those affected by the accident, but Arnold says the company immediately turned around the next day and invoked the liability limitations. "They waited till the morning after the congressional hearings were done and then they filed the application at 9:30 the next morning," says Arnold. "They say one thing when they are talking to politicians and the cameras and they do another thing in court."

The Transocean application also seeks to have any claim filed against the company more than six months after the accident declared invalid.

Meanwhile, his clients are worried about their futures. "These folks are small town folks," says Arnold. "They are really scared. I just keep telling them to see their doctors, get well the best they can and don't worry about what Transocean is doing down in court."

Arnold's firm, Arnold & Itkin has dealt with tough corporate characters before. The firm made significant financial recoveries for victims of the BP's Texas City Oil Refinery explosion and has spent many hundreds of hours battling companies in high stakes lawsuits.

"BP is big target," says Arnold. "They have been doing things very poorly. And Transocean is doing everything they can to limit its responsibility."

Kurt Arnold is a partner in the firm of Arnold & Itkin in Houston. He holds a BA in Government from the University of Texas and JD from University of Texas Law School. The firm has won a number of seven-figure lawsuits on behalf of clients.

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