Matthew Davis and Stephen Davis (no relation) are each suing Transocean and British Petroleum (BP) for $5.5 million, claiming that the injuries they sustained as a result of the oil rig explosion and fire have impaired their capacity to provide for their respective families.
While the work was hard and the days long, the money earned by workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon was generous—and is representative of the industry. A general laborer or "roughneck," in oil industry terminology, can earn as much as $47,500 per year. Skilled workers can earn much more than that. Such a pay packet for individuals, many of whom have little more than a high school education, is unique. They would earn less driving trucks or working at McDonald's or Wal-Mart, as pointed out by one of the industrial accident attorneys conversant with the case, in comments published in the 5/18/10 issue of the Los Angeles Times.
Now the two Davis men claim that the injuries they sustained in April preclude them from supporting their families in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.
Adam Weise was one of the men killed on April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean but operated by BP, went up in flames and eventually sunk to the ocean floor. Adam's grandmother Nelda Winslette, who raised her grandson in her Yorktown, Texas home, had considered the possibility that her grandson might get into a serious accident, given the inherent dangers associated with working on an offshore rig.
She has decided not to sue.
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Others have criticized Transocean and BP, claiming that the disaster could have been averted.
The LA Times reports that at any given time the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil industry employs 35,000 people. In the last four years the federal Minerals Management Service has recorded 41 deaths and 1300 injuries.
Earlier this spring President Obama announced an expansion of oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The industrial accident aboard the Transocean Deepwater Horizon happened soon after.