Houston, Texas (May 2, 2023) — Houston-based law firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner attorney Lena Laurenzo, together with William P. Kennedy, Joan E. Ballard, and Sophia Sanchez of Bill Kennedy Law have filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against multiple individuals and companies on behalf of Jimmy Counce, Patricia Counce and the Estate of Michael Lee Counce. The defendants are alleged to have failed to maintain a safe work environment for their employees. These responsibilities include prioritizing the safety of its employees and crewmembers, vetting, and hiring competent and safe employees and independent contractors, applying preventive measures after a threat or safety concern is known or otherwise reported, and notifying law enforcement of potential dangers to protect employees. This also includes security checks for weapons at a job site. The lawsuit alleges breach of the jones act, premises liability, wrongful death, negligence, and gross negligence and seeks the maximum compensation amount allowed by law.
Michael Counce was a crewmember employed by Magellan Dredging. On September 28th,2021 at or around 8:30 AM, while working on or near a vessel owned by Magellan Dredging, Michael Counce was violently attacked by Juan Carlos Vasquez-Rojas with a machete. Juan Carlos Vasquez-Rojas was an employee of Colombia Dredging who was also working at the job site. Juan Carlos Vasquez-Rojas attacked Mr. Counce striking him multiple times with the machete and ultimately killed him. Juan Carlos Vasquez- Rojas fled the scene after the attack, but was soon arrested by the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office.
The day before the attack on September 27th, 2021; Mr. Counce voiced safety concerns to his supervisor of Magellan Dredging. His concerns included that the Colombia Dredging crew was a “rough bunch” and there were numerous concerns reported about the Colombia Dredging crew. Mr. Counce felt so in danger of his safety while working, that he went as far as to ask his supervisor if he could bring his firearm to the worksite. Mr. Counce’s supervisor denied this request. Mr. Counce’s request for a firearm was also based on a known and reported conflict that had developed between Juan Carlos Vasquez-Rojas and Mr. Counce. None of the defendants mentioned in the lawsuit took any measures to address the conflict or protect Mr. Counce or ensure that the working environment would not otherwise become unsafe due to this known conflict. None of the named defendants made any attempt to alert law enforcement or port authorities of the potential danger.
Commenting on the lawsuit, Attorney Lena Laurenzo said, “I am deeply disturbed about what happened to Mr. Counce. The loss of his life was entirely preventable. Mr. Counce’s concerns about his safety were reported and then ignored by these companies. We will be leading a thorough investigation into this tragedy to seek justice on behalf of the Counce family, and fully uncover all of these companies’ failures that led to the death of Mr. Counce.”
About Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner
Founded in 1951, Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is one of the longest-standing personal injury law firms in Texas. Our distinguished history and reputation work to the advantage of each of our clients. We represent injured individuals in personal injury lawsuits because we enjoy helping people. Our clients come from many walks of life: from national sports figures and artists to working-class families dealing with catastrophic accidents. We put our dedication and resources behind each case we handle with the mission of obtaining the best resolution possible. Our clients receive some of the most experienced and successful legal representation in Houston, Texas. For more information, please visit www.abrahamwatkins.com