Noble Drilling Services, Inc., an offshore oil drilling company, saw its efforts to compel an injured worker to undergo a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) thwarted by a U.S. District Court judge on May 29. In his ruling, the federal judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana suggested that he didn’t anticipate that the worker’s submission to another doctor’s examination would serve any worthwhile purpose.
The London-based oil rig platform owner had wanted the injured contractor to undergo additional testing in hopes of seeing if he was indeed unable to perform his job-related tasks as he’d originally claimed.
At the time of the worker’s injury, he’s been employed as a field representative with VAM USA LLC. That Shell Oil Co. subsidiary supplies connective materials to oil rig owners for use on their platforms. He happened to be inspecting a large pipe on one of these in the Gulf of Mexico on May 11, 2015, when he slipped on mud just as the casing was being prepared to be lowered into the ocean floor.
Court filings in the case show that the man suffered back, nervous system, ligament and muscle injuries as a result of his fall. The injured worker ultimately underwent thoracic spine surgery in February 2017 and then underwent a independent medical exam (IME) five months later. He later saw a physical therapist as well.
The injured worker had initially filed a claim under the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act in May of 2016. In that filing, he claimed that Noble Drilling’s negligence resulted in his injuries.
Noble Drilling’s had hoped that the judge presiding over the case would order the man to undergo a FCE to assess his lingering physical limitations. However, the judge decided against this.
He noted that the man had originally undergone an IME in 2012 when he was hired on. He then had been subjected to another one at the request of defense in 2017. He noted that a shift in the worker’s abilities could be seen simply by comparing the two previous IMEs.
It’s unclear as to whether the defense will appeal the judge’s most recent decision.
Work on oil rigs or aboard commercial vessels doesn’t come without risk. Those who are injured while working out at sea may be eligible to recover lost wages and medical expenses. A Louisiana attorney can let you know if you’re eligible to receive such benefits.