October 30, 2003
Houston Prestige suit against ABS to proceed
A federal court in Houston has denied American Bureau of Shipping's request to dismiss, stay, or transfer a case brought against it as a result of the sinking of the PRESTIGE off the coast of Spain on November 19, 2002, according to Tony Buzbee, a Houston attorney and lead counsel for the Plaintiffs in the case.
The case was brought by the autonomous province of Basque and several other autonomous entities, claiming that ABS failed to adequately inspect the vessel. It has been estimated that the PRESTIGE has already lost at least one quarter of its fuel oil cargo, says Buzbee.
The Basque government has already expended more than $40 million cleaning up its coast; the case seeks more than $100 million in damages.
Buzbee, says: "My clients have felt all along that ABS should have done a better job. We have expended numerous resources and monies cleaning up this mess on the Basque coast. The disaster has impacted the local fishing industry, the tourism industry, and the local economies. It has been reported that the PRESTIGE sinking is already more damaging than the damage caused by the EXXON VALDEZ. We are very pleased with the Court's ruling."
The Houston case is the first case that will proceed to trial in the history of litigation against ABS, says Buzbee. The Buzbee Law Firm describes itself as a "boutique law firm" that is known for bringing "one of a kind cases." It says it was the law firm in the country to successfully pursue a case for wage fixing, resulting in a $75 million settlement against the United States offshore drilling industry.