TEXAS CITY — The owners of a ship involved in a collision that spilled heavy fuel oil into Galveston Bay seeks to stop claims against the firm.

Attorneys for Sea Galaxy Marine, owners of the cargo vessel Summer Wind, filed a petition to limit its liability in the March 22 collision with a barge that spilled more than 168,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil. The firm also seeks to make a court in Houston the primary court of jurisdiction in the case.

The court filing affectively stops all claims against the ship’s owner. Two weeks ago, a federal judge ordered the “arrest” or seizure of the ship at the request of attorneys representing several fishermen and bait shops.

The ship was freed after the ship’s operator, Cleopatra Shipping, filed a $9.3 million bond, said attorney Sean O’Rourke, who filed the request for arrest with the court.

O’Rourke said he was expecting the limitation of liability request by the ship’s owner.

Attorney Tony Buzbee, who also represents several fishermen and others in the fishing industry, said his firm responded by filing with the courts that all claims be moved back to the federal court in Galveston, “where they belong,” he said.

The filing for limitation last week is the latest in what will be a series of legal maneuvers by parties involved as investigators try to sort out who is responsible for the collision and the cleanup costs.

Kirby Inland Marine owned the tugboat that was towing the barge that spilled the oil. As such, that company is considered the “responsible party,” although it is not determined who was at fault in the collision.

On a foggy March 22 morning, the Summer Wind and the barge pushed by the tugboat Miss Susan collided at the Texas City Y.

That section of waterway near the tip of the Texas City Dike is where the Texas City and Houston ship channels and the Intracoastal Waterway converge.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

(10) comments


I do not think BP not Exxon were given this opportunity. what is the price of Marine life? What is the price of cleaning a cleaning a boat that may have been fishing that day or days after? Can we really put a discount on that?[sad]

Joel Martin


J. Shaffer

Because corporations are people too..... right up until you sue them. Then it's darn hard to find someone to take responsibility.

Trish Bold

NOT .... from the area, limitation on liability, move the proceeding to Houston....outrageous!

Andy Aycoth

These two shipping companies are not going to take responsibility and do what is right like BP. The judges at Federal court level are letting people with fraudulent claims take advantage of BP while BP is trying to do the right thing.
I see why Buzzbee wants it to go to federal court .

Mike Leahy

The demonization of the owners of the M/V Summer Wind would be more properly deferred until the final determination of the cause of the allision of the vessels.

Kirby is the responsible party for the spill itself. Liability will only shift (in part) to the owners and /or operators (depending on the nature of their charter party) of the ship involved if the M/V Summer Wind is found to be responsible for the allision with the barge and its tug. So far, I have yet to see any reports on that and, realistically, it will be some fair amount of time before that occurs. Watch for the finger pointing between the Houston Pilot and the ship's Captain to commence in earnest then. The precedent of San Francisco Bar Pilot John Cota, being found criminally liable and sent to prison for hitting the Oakland Bay Bridge a few years ago should give the Pilots Association and State Pilot Commissioners pause for reflection. It is also long since time to hear what role the USCG Traffic played (or failed to play) in the minutes before the allision.

As the focus turns more on the incident immediately prior to the oil spill (and without doubt the root cause of the subsequent spill), perhaps news reports could stop calling that event a "collision" and start using the correct term: allision.

By the way, I hope the 1/2 page Buzbee advertisements showing how you can interact with a really hot babe (er...I mean attorney) if you call them right away, continues indefinitely. Her photo is a really smart marketing move.

Kim Etheridge

@ miceal o'laochdha - "By the way, I hope the 1/2 page Buzbee advertisements showing how you can interact with a really hot babe (er...I mean attorney)..."

Hahaha! I've been thinking the very same thing about that ad.

George Croix

Everyone who can prove they were financially harmed by this oil spill should have their losses compensated, at least on the face value of it we have now, with no final report, no finding of fault, and indeed no information yet as to whether some anamoly beyond either's control caused the contact.
Their losses shoiuld not include those ginned up from thin air, or read from a script in a law office.
That aside, it's hard for me personally to blame anybody trying to limit their liability when you consider where the incident happened, and the record of 'accomplishment' of attorneys.
After all, in this area, we had 4000 plus 'claims' paid out when the number of killed and injured in one tragedy was 157. Some claimants were not even within 10 miles of the event when it occurred. I personally know of over 2 dozen such scoundrels, although we haven't spoken since '05. Some 'victims' were still 'claiming' two years later. Helps to have the type of representation that sees nothing wrong with phony claims.
Then, we have 45,000 people right around here willing to lie and cheat to get a piece of a potential pie hyped up by, yes, the usual suspsects.
Then, we consider that along with the massive damages actually caused by Deepwater Horizoin spill were the more massive payouts for fraud and liars, and that is STILL going on, as dishonest entities, at least one centered on a local island, try to get paid for a crystal ball reading of lost tourism, despite no impact to our shores.
Blame anyone for doing what they can to not get fleeced in such an area as this?
I don't...

Kathy Maddox

Rick Perry will let them get away with it.

George Croix

Them who?
The attorneys?
Their clients?
The barge/ship owners?
Rick is fond of a local attorney, appointing same to the A&M Board of Regents.

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