AAJ Statement on House Passage of SPILL Act

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For Immediate Release: July 1, 2010

Contact: Jamie Hammon
American Association for Justice
202-965-3500 x8369
AAJ Press Room

AAJ Statement on House Passage of SPILL Act

Washington, DCThe U.S. House of Representatives today passed crucial Gulf Coast disaster liability legislation, the “Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations on Liability Act” (SPILL Act / H.R. 5503).  The following is a statement from American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone:

“The House’s quick passage of this bill shows how current maritime laws desperately need to be updated if the negligent corporations responsible for the tragedy are to be held accountable. The families of workers who died aboard the Deepwater Horizon, as well as those affected by other maritime disasters, are now one large step closer to receiving justice.”

The SPILL Act, sponsored by Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), amends DOHSA to allow recovery of noneconomic damages for maritime death victims’ families, starting with the 11 workers that died in BP’s current disaster.

The SPILL Act also updates several other outdated maritime liability laws that significantly restrict the accountability of Transocean by:

  • repealing of the Limitation of Liability Act, the antiquated 1851 law which allows Transocean to claim it is only responsible for $27 million in damages, the current worth of its now-destroyed rig, despite receiving over $400 million from its insurance company, and;
  • amending the wrongful death claims falling under the Jones Act to provide the noneconomic damages of loss of care, comfort and companionship to surviving family members from seamens’ employers
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As the world's largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit http://www.justice.org/newsroom.

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