Family of Ernest Williams includes boat manufacturer in lawsuit for “failing to design a seaworthy vessel”

Seacor Power

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A third Acadiana family is filing a lawsuit for a crewman aboard the Seacor Power. Ernest Williams (69) of Arnaudville was a cook on the vessel. He was also the second person found days after the crew went missing.

His family’s lawsuit is the first filed inside Louisiana which is why the document doesn’t have a set dollar amount inside like the previous lawsuits from Texas filed by the families of Dylan Daspit and Jay Guevara; however, the Williams family is also seeking at $25M if not more in compensation according to attorney Morris Bart.

Two families of missing crew file multimillion-dollar lawsuits

“This was an avoidable accident,” asserted Bart in an interview with KLFY.

His law firm is representing eight of Ernest Williams’s children in the lawsuit filing seeking damages for the injury, anguish, and death of their father as well as what it means for their futures.

Similar to previous lawsuits, they claim Seacor Marine, Seacor Liftboats, and Talos Energy put profits before the safety and lives of the crew. Attorney Morris Bart argues the companies either knew or should have known of the deteriorating and dangerous weather conditions from the warnings of the National Weather Service.

“We feel that that is the negligence on behalf of Seacor and Talos for ordering and/or requesting that the boat should go out when it should have been very obvious to everyone these were conditions that did not lend itself to a boat like this going out,” Bart stated.

Unlike previous lawsuits, the liftboat manufacturer Semco is also being sued. Their website says their “mission is to provide our customers with the highest level of versatility, efficiency, and productivity.” Semco’s homepage does mention safety.

“The waves were about nine feet and a vessel, a liftboat, such as this should easily be able to sustain conditions such as this,” Bart claimed based on what he’s learned in the early investigation. “Either the vessel they made was not seaworthy or they failed to notify the user of the boat, Seacor, that it could not go out in the conditions the boat faced.”

The Williams family attorney could not confirm or deny rumors of the boat undergoing repairs before and during its final voyage but said he will find the answers while building the case: getting experts, contacting witnesses, and ensuring preservations of texts, documents, emails, and any other communications regarding why this boat was sent out.

“We’re interested in being very aggressive in getting documents, preventing evidence from being destroyed, and that’s one of the reasons why we filed right away is that evidence has a way of disappearing. Witnesses have a way of disappearing,” Bart concluded.

Seacor Latest: Life jackets, hard hats found as volunteers search for remaining Seacor crew members

Hopes are the jury trial will lead to new regulations for boat operators and manufacturers which will prevent another tragedy from taking place during similar conditions. You can read the full lawsuit here.

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