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File photo: The five divers employed by a private company contracted by Paria Trading Co Ltd to carry out maintenance work on a 36-inch pipeline in one of the last photos taken in Pointe-à-Pierre on Friday. From left to right, Christopher Boodram, who survived, Kazim Ali Jr, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban.

PARIA Fuel Trading Company says it believes it is not responsible for the injuries sustained by Christopher Boodram, the only diver hired by LMCS Ltd who survived an incident on February 25 at his berth in Pointe- Pierre.

But Paria might be willing to consider providing her with medical assistance using doctors she has selected or approved.

On April 20, attorneys for Paria responded to a letter sent by attorneys representing Boodram and Vanessa Kussie, widow of diver Rishi Nagassar.

Nagassar, Yusuf Henry, Fyzal Kurban and Kazim Ali Jr died in the 30-inch seabed pipeline. The five were all divers with the LMCS.

Attorney Gretel Baird, along with Gilbert Peterson, SC, Jason Mootoo, Thane Pierre and Sebastian Peterson, represent Outcast.

In her response, she pointed out that at the time of the incident Boodram’s employer was LMCS and when he was injured he was working under the direction and supervision of LMCS.

Baird also said that LMCS had expressly contracted with Paria to brief its staff on safety rules; provide and maintain all safety equipment; provide an adequate, competent and certified/licensed workforce for the specific duties of the position; full-time supervision; materials, tools/equipment; ensuring that tools and equipment were in good working order; and ensure that its tools and equipment have been inspected before each use to ensure that they are fit for the intended purpose and free from defects.

But, she said, “I am advised that although Paria is of the opinion that it bears no legal responsibility for the injuries sustained by Mr Boodram, without any admission of liability on its part and solely as As a gesture of goodwill, she may be prepared to consider rendering assistance to Mr. Boodram through the provision of medical care by physicians chosen or approved by her.

Baird asked for a description of Boodram’s current medical condition; all medical reports prepared; and whether he has made a request to his employer, LMCS. She also requested a copy of the request, if it was in writing, and LMCS’s response.

On March 22, Boodram’s lawyers, Anand Ramlogan, SC, and Dr. Che Dindial, wrote to Paria asking if the company would pay Boodram’s medical bills and the cost of hiring an independent international expert. They also made 23 requests to Paria for information about the incident, which Baird said would be handled separately.

Regarding the request to hire an international expert, Baird said it was “unreasonable” and was refused for several reasons.

“First of all, as mentioned above, Paria does not consider itself liable to your customers for the events of February 25, 2022.

“Second, assuming your clients want the services of an expert for the purpose of initiating civil proceedings against Paria, it is customary for parties to legal proceedings to withhold and bear the costs of their own experts.

“Third, press reports about the commission of inquiry suggest that the commission will seek independent expert advice. Your clients will therefore benefit from this advice once the commission’s work has begun.

She also chastised the lawyers for making “several false and/or misleading statements” about Paria’s conduct on the day of the tragedy and afterwards in their March 22 letter, while noting that it was “a pity that the most of your letter was devoted to castigating Paria with false, misinformed, misleading and inflammatory allegations, instead of providing basic and essential support for your client’s request for payment by Paria of his medical expenses.

Baird also said Paria had not offered to respond to the statements in the letter, further describing them as “inflammatory, vastly misinformed, and clearly designed for media consumption.”

She said if Boodram’s legal team chooses to engage in the relevant pre-action protocol process, Paria will respond to it at the appropriate time.

On April 5, Dindial wrote to LMCS chief executive Kazim Ali, asking for certain information to be released as well as asking if the company could confirm whether it would offer financial assistance to Boodram and Kussie.

“Mr. Boodram is currently receiving medical treatment and is unable to earn an income. He is severely psychologically scarred by the incident.

“Ms Kussie remains without the support of the deceased who was the sole breadwinner in her family and is in dire financial straits.”

Dindial said the lawyers had been told that LMCS had promised some form of pro bono financial support and wanted to know if that was still the case.

“Our customers enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with LMCS prior to the incident and we hope that can continue.”

Dindial also requested LMCS’s insurance policies that covered its employees, including Boodram and Nagassar, for injuries and loss of life resulting from work performed for the company; a copy of its workers’ compensation policy; all privately obtained post-mortem reports for Nagassar; the work permit granted by Paria for the work of February 25; correspondence between Paria and LMCS from the day of the tragedy until today; and contractor/terms of employment between LMCS, Nagassar and Boodram.

He also asked for any statements made by LMCS workers about the incident; any expert reports obtained by international diving personnel on the incident; payslips/records of employment for Boodram and Nagassar; a copy of the contingency policies the LMCS has in place for delta-P accidents or those similar to what occurred on February 25; LMCS contract with Paria for pipeline maintenance work; and details of the primary and secondary plugs used in the hyperbaric chamber near the riser being replaced.

“This traumatic ordeal of this life-threatening experience has left our clients in a state of unimaginable grief and distress,” Dindial wrote.

Newsday has been informed that LMCS has yet to respond to Dindial’s letter. Until late yesterday, LMCS solicitor Gerald Ramdeen could not be reached by phone.

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