A worker who suffered disfiguring burns in an explosion last year on an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico is suing Houston-based Black Elk Energy LLC, the Wood Group USA Inc., and others based on claims that their negligence led to his injuries.

The lawsuit was filed last month by Renato Dominguez in Galveston County.

Dominguez claims the companies in charge of the platform failed to properly train and supervise workers, didn’t provide adequate safety equipment or medical treatment, didn’t inspect the platform, and violated federal labor laws and other regulations.

The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a report this month that  found the explosion happened because storage tanks weren’t properly purged of flammable liquid before the crew was cleared to perform “hot work” with torches on nearby pipes.

The pipes ignited because of gas vapors, and the fire spread to three storage tanks, BSEE said in its report. The tanks exploded and two landed in the Gulf of Mexico, polluting the water, the agency said.

“These failures reflect a disregard for the safety of workers on the platform and are the antithesis of the type of safety culture that should guide decision-making in all offshore oil and gas operations,” said Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno in a written statement.

Ellroy Corporal, Jerome Malagapo and Avelino Tajonera died as a result of the Nov. 16, 2012, explosion. Three others suffered serious injuries; nine people were taken to hospitals by helicopter that day.

“BSEE said that Black Elk and its subcontractors — Grand Isle Shipyards/DNR, Wood Group PSN, and Compass Engineering Consultants — did not follow federal regulations and also failed to follow Black Elk’s own hot-work plan, which called for a full inspection of any area before welding work was to begin,” the New Orleans Times Picayune said.

Dominguez, 53, was working as a pipefitter at the production site and is one of several Filipino workers injured in the explosion.


He suffered burns on his face and most of his body during the explosion.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Other defendants include various units of Black Elk and Louisiana-based companies Compass Engineering & Consultants LLC, Shamrock Management LLC and Enviro-Tech Systems LLC.

The lawsuit is Renato Dominguez v. Black Elk Energy, LLC, et al., No. CV-70916.


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