A Houma seaman who sustained spinal injuries in an alleged workplace accident more than two years ago will move forward with a new suit after a U.S. District Court judge ruled that his initial claim for damages did not meet requirements. Walter Hewitt is seeking more than $3 million in damages from his former employer, Frank’s International, in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. Hewitt claims that he was working inside a 12-by-12-foot toolbox aboard the Frontier Driller rig in the Gulf of Mexico when he claimed a gust blew the structure’s lid onto his head, causing him to blackout and fracture his spine. He also claimed that the toolbox provided by his employer did not have a hydraulic closure system that would have helped it withstand the strong winds offshore. Frank’s International countered that the claim cannot succeed because they did not own the vessel on which Hewitt was working when he sustained his injuries, invalidating the negligence accusations federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
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