NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) — Two nonprofits who worked to find the missing crewmen of the Seacor Power met opposed in court Wednesday.
News 10 was also there and spoke to both sides.
Representatives for Gulfcoast Humanitarian efforts and the United Cajun Navy are arguing over an alleged $400,000 collected by United Cajun Navy for the search. Before they could get into those details, a judge had to rule on two motions against the petition in a preliminary hearing.
Judge Suzanne deMahy ruled in favor of the United Cajun Navy’s argument that there was “no cause of action” in the plaintiff’s seven-page petition.
The defense attorney representing United Cajun Navy and its president Todd Terrell, Greg Akers said, “She took her time, she listened to the arguments, she considered the law, she looked at the pleadings on her own, and I think she did her best to make the appropriate rulings which I think she did today.”
Judge deMahy’s reasoning relied on the defense’s argument that Christofer DeRouen and GulfCoast Humanitarian Efforts alleged a verbal agreement for a donation of remaining funds in the Seacor Search.
Defense attorney Greg Akers argued, “Even if what he said was true, we’re not even going to get into whether or not it is true, let’s just assume it’s true, the law doesn’t give him a remedy for that.”
Akers successfully argued by law that promised donations must be fulfilled or have written contracts, like a check or car title, for a lawsuit. The plaintiffs don’t see what they’re asking for as a donation.
“It was pretty upsetting to know that it tried to be misconstrued that Christopher was taking a donation for himself, that’s not the case at all,” Scott Daspit told News 10.
Scott Daspit is the father of Seacor Power victim Dylan Daspit and President of Gulfcoast Humanitarian Efforts, which he says was formed immediately after the United Cajun Navy offered to transfer the money they collected to another entity that would finish the search for the missing Seacor Power crew and donate what was left to the families of the deceased and missing men.
Daspit took the witness stand for the first time in any case regarding the Seacor Power Wednesday. When he identified himself as the father of Seacor Power victim Dylan Daspit, he could not hold back tears. Scott Daspit stated after the preliminary hearing that the United Cajun Navy has still given neither transparency nor transfer of funds to this day.
“That’s what the meat and potatoes about this is. Where did the $400,000 go?”, Daspit asked. “We want that money that was given by heart-loving people to finish this, and we want it to go to the families. Whatever is left.”
Although Judge deMahy granted the defense’s request for “no cause of action” against the petition, she is allowing the plaintiffs to amend their petition and clarify their claims within the next 30 days.
The plaintiff attorney, Gabe Duhon, told News 10 that Scott Daspit and GulfCoast Humanitarian Efforts will formally join Christifer DeRouen in the amended suit. He stated the defense may have won this battle, but they have not won the war.
“It’s a bump in the path, and we’ll get past it,” Duhon concluded.
The defense also filed an “improper venue” motion to get the case moved to the East Baton Rouge district where Todd Terrell the president of the United Cajun Navy resides. No judgment was rendered as a result of there being no cause of action. If an amended petition is not submitted within 30 days, the case could be dropped.