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TheStreet Open House

Transocean Legal Filing 'Shameful,' Say Attorneys For Missing Oil Rig Worker

HOUSTON, May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorneys for the family of Aaron Dale Burkeen, one of 11 workers believed to have been killed in the deadly April 20 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, are responding to a legal filing made today by the rig's owner, Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG). Maritime attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin from the Houston trial law firm Arnold & Itkin and Jay Kilpatrick of the Jackson, Miss., firm of YoungWilliams P.A. represent Mr. Burkeen's wife and two children.

Transocean's legal team today filed a request under the federal Limitation of Liability Act in an attempt to reduce the company's financial responsibility for the explosion. Transocean's legal filing also could put the onus on injured victims to file legal claims before a yet-to-be-determined deadline. Such a ruling could apply to families of workers who were killed in the blast, workers who survived the explosion, and everyone who may have suffered financial damage from business interruptions or property losses.

"Transocean has compounded this terrible tragedy with a shameful legal filing that is intended solely to protect the company's interests," says Mr. Arnold. "They haven't even said they're sorry, much less take responsibility. Now, they're running off to court in hopes of getting a ruling that will limit their liability to what is on the bottom of the ocean. I think the filing is completely frivolous."

In addition to the Burkeen family, Arnold & Itkin represents several plaintiffs with claims related to what experts say may be the worst environmental disaster in history. The firm's clients include several workers from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which is owned by Transocean and operated by UK-based BP PLC (NYSE: BP). That case, Joshua Kritzer, et al. v. Transocean, Ltd. et al., No. 62,738, is pending in the County Court at Law No. 3 in Galveston County, Texas.

"By making a limitations request, Transocean is basically trying to accomplish an end-around that will leave injured victims holding the bag," says Mr. Itkin. "However, we know the law, and we will not let Transocean victimize these families a second time with today's meritless filing."

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