SPILL Act to Provide Justice for Oil Rig Disaster Victims

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For Immediate Release: June 23, 2010

Contact: Jamie Hammon
American Association for Justice
202-965-3500 x8369
AAJ Press Room

SPILL Act to Provide Justice for Oil Rig Disaster Victims

House Judiciary Committee reports out bill that would amend the Death on the High Seas Act and hold negligent corporations accountable

Washington, DC—The House Judiciary Committee today voted out crucial Gulf Coast oil spill legislation that would amend the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) to more fairly compensate the families of the workers who died in the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.

The “Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations on Liability Act” (SPILL Act / H.R. 5503), sponsored by Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich), amends DOHSA to allow recovery of noneconomic damages for maritime death victims’ families, starting with the 11 workers that died in BP’s current disaster.

The SPILL Act also updates several other outdated maritime liability laws that significantly restrict the accountability of Transocean by:

  • repealing of 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, and;
  • amending the Jones Act to provide noneconomic damages to surviving family members from seamens’ employers.

“Today’s full committee vote was a crucial step towards ensuring that the negligent corporations responsible for this tragedy will foot their share of the bill and fairly compensate the families of the workers killed and injured by the original explosion,” said AAJ President Anthony Tarricone. “Congress must act to amend these laws so victims of all maritime disasters will not face an uphill battle for justice.”

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