Today, the House of Representatives passed a bill - H.R. 5503 (also known as the SPILL Act) - which will amend the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). H.R. 5503 will permit the widows and children of the oil rig workers killed in the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster to be compensated for their grief, mental anguish and suffering due to the deaths of their husbands and fathers.
The bill was passed in the House today due to the efforts of the families of the 11 workers who died when the drilling rig exploded two months ago. The families targeted their efforts on the obscure DOHSA law which does not recognize the suffering of children and spouses who lose loved ones on the high seas.
The bill was introduced by Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, who chairs the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
We have reported on the sad death of oil worker Gordon Jones, who left behind a pregnant and loving wife and a young son, and the extraordinary efforts of his father who lobbied to change this unfavorable law.
BP fought against the families. So did the notorious Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), who lobbied behind the scenes to try and keep the oil rig wives and children from receiving compensation.
The amendment to DOHSA is also needed for families who have lost loved ones on cruises ships. Hundreds of passengers have died on cruise ships due to the negligence of the cruise lines.
Yesterday, we reported on the unconscionable efforts of CLIA. We posted a letter which CLIA sent to legislators to oppose the efforts of the grieving families suffering from the BP explosion.
Today, the bad guys - BP, Transocean and the cruise lines - lost. The good guys won.
But the law still needs to be passed in the Senate. BP, Transocean, and CLIA will be back - like vultures - to walk the halls of our Senate. Bad companies like this will try and keep this much needed reform of DOHSA from being enacted into law.
For additional information about DOHSA, consider reading: