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Millions Recovered

  • $5,400,000.00 settlement involving a seaman who fell from a stairway during fire and boat drill aboard a container ship sustaining quadriplegic injuries. Partners Mellusi and Shisha personally inspected the vessel taking hundreds of measurements and still and videos of every stairway in the ship’s main deck house. The data was compared with the vessel’s design plans in our library which demonstrated the vessel had been negligently constructed in that it failed to follow the naval architect’s original design specifications.
  • $4,400,000.00 jury award to a former shipmate who sustained a shoulder injury while at sea. The third mate had to undergo multiple surgeries and will not be able to become a captain because of the injury.
  • $2,400,000 jury award to a licensed marine engineer who sustained permanent knee injuries while attempting to remove a 200 lb. valve from an overhead piping system. Partner Mellusi personally inspected the ship’s engine room taking detailed photos and measurements. A duplicate valve was obtained from a maritime junkyard and was brought into court along with an auto-shop mechanical hoist capable of lifting it 12 feet to demonstrate the vessel lacked suitable means to perform this work safely. The jury award was in top ten verdicts in the United States for a comparable knee injury. The case was tried to verdict in a New York Federal Court.
  • $2,980,000.00 jury award to a ship’s cook for back injury resulting from insufficient procedures for moving ship stores. Case tried in New York federal court.
  • $2,700,000.00 settlement to a mate on a Tanker vessel who sustained multiple fractures.
  • $2,000,000.00 was awarded to a barge deckhand – wrongful death.
  • $1,827,000 awarded to a marine engineer working on a US Government supply vessel who fell into an unguarded ventilation fan causing neck, shoulder and hand injuries. The case was tried non-jury before a federal judge in Baltimore Federal Court. The court award was subsequently determined to be within the highest ten verdicts for the State of Maryland in 2009.
  • $1,200,000.00 jury award to a ship’s Bosun who sustained shoulder and neck injuries while attempting to move plywood sheets on main deck of vessel during 40 knot winds. Case tried in New York Federal Court.
  • $950,000 awarded to passenger killed when his recreational boat came into collision with tow wire of tug and barge
  • $850,000 settlement, Federal Court Allentown PA., to seaman sustained herniated disk while lifting a 110 lbs crane hooks.
  • $840,000 jury award to a seaman who fell from ladder while painting sustaining fractured wrist.
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New York Maritime Law Blog

How common are cruise ship accidents?

A cruise adventure is often just as much about the journey as the destination itself. This is why countless New Yorkers choose floating vacations that lead to thrilling and luxurious beaches and cities. With the endless perks of choosing this type of vacation, there are safety aspects to be aware of, as well. 

With the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, American cruises have, as a whole, become safer and more reliable. However, an accident can occur in the blink of an eye and leave passengers with more questions than answers about cruise safety and the law. 

The things they don't mention in cruise ship ads

On January 23 of this year, a passenger tumbled from the Carnival Triumph into the Gulf of Mexico. After several days of looking for the woman, the Mexican Navy eventually called off the search.

The incident is a reminder that these commercial fun ships - the Carnival Triumph in particular - have a nasty history of accidents, calamities and passenger deaths.

3 Reasons why you might want outside legal counsel beyond the union

Most unions representing seaman, longshoremen and civilian mariners take great care of their members. They work hard to ensure that fair wages are upheld, that working conditions meet state and federal safety standards, and most importantly, that legitimate grievances are properly and promptly addressed. 

Nevertheless, there may be situations where outside legal counsel is not only helpful but beneficial. Here are three of them:

The reality of fishing industry dangers

Most New Yorkers go about their days without giving thought toward the dangers of some industries. Meanwhile, countless fishery workers take risks while on the job. Although fish is an essential food across the country -- not to mention the fact that it provides employment for thousands -- it is one of society's more dangerous pursuits when considered commercially. The safety of this line of work is an aspect of this industry that many experts have warned about for decades. Is it really as dangerous as some might say? 

According to Salon, the answer to this question is complex. One study from Salon's report that ranged from 2000 to 2009 showed that areas on the East Coast allegedly pose more risks for fishery wokers than those on the West Coast. More specifically, groundfish created more dangers for employees in this part of the country. More recent data from 2010 to 2014 show that this trend does not appear to have an end in sight, either. And as some experts claim the industry is getting safer, a large number of workers experience injury and even death from various vessel disasters. Many of these accidents occur when boats are safely docked ashore.   

U.S. assists to find ferry passengers

When people in New York board a commercial boat designed to transport them from one place to another, they should be able to trust that the operators of the craft will keep them safe. Many things contribute to making this happen including operating a boat properly and navigating weather and other obstacles appropriately. In addition, entities that own and manage commercial boats like ferries or cruise liners should ensure that all vessels are maintained and are safe for travel.

Sadly it appears that this level of due diligence was not exercised before a passenger ferry departed for what was to be a two-day journey in the south Pacific recently. According to reports, the ferry left with approximately 80 passengers and crew members on board. After eight days and a clear failure to arrive at the intended destination, authorities were alerted to a problem. So far, the boat itself has yet to be located. The vessel had been identified as unfit for passage due to damage to multiple parts.

The basics of boating accidents in New York

Boat accidents can happen during any adventurous outing, and can be brought on by nature's unpredictable elements or even a slip of judgment. Whether it is the mesmerizing views, fresh Atlantic Ocean air or simply a machinery malfunction, a boating accident can turn a joyous day into a disastrous one. 

According to the Coast Guard, there are some common contributing factors to most boating accidents. One such contributor is alcohol use; 2016 Coast Guard statistics show that alcohol consumption was the leading factor in fatal accidents on the water. Other factors that often cause boating accidents include:

  • Operator inattention
  • Excessive speed
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Machinery failure  

New York's boating license laws

As with laws governing many other things, every state is able to identify it's laws and guidelines for who is required to obtain a license in order to operate a boat or watercraft. While some states in the nation make a boating license mandatory for every operator of even personal boats used for recreational purposes, New York does not according to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

However, people who want to operate commercial crafts must be licensed. This licensing is required for operators of everything from tug boats to ferries, charter fishing boats to sightseeing vessels and more. Even a person who drives a personal boat in exchange for some type of compensation on select bodies of water may need to have a special license called a public vessel operator license. Only people who are legal adults are allowed to hold a public vessel operator license.

Boating smarts for every adventurer

Rain or shine, boating can prove to be a thrilling and memorable activity -- especially on the many waterside destinations that surround New York. Bringing the whole family along on these recreational outings is another added bonus; however, there are certain safety practices one can keep in mind to ensure the trip on the water is a successful one. 

As with any outdoor sport or activity, there come the expected risks. Newsday shared last summer that, in 2016 alone, there were 22 deaths in New York that occurred from various recreational boating accidents. That number rose from the 16 deaths that occurred in 2015. Officials fear that the number of fatal accidents will continue to rise, but are hopeful that the raising awareness to the statistic will help prevent future mishaps. A stronger economy and lower gas prices in recent years are two reasons boating has become so popular. When it comes to the accidents themselves, alcohol and lack of safety gear are largely to blame. Yet one factor that the state has recently focused on is that of boating licenses. Because some of the state's past accidents involved unauthorized drivers (many of whom were underage), a 2014 law requires all 18-year-olds to complete a motorboat operating course. 

Injuries covered for maritime workers

Like most people in New York, you have likely heard references to workers' compensation. This is a special type of benefit that can provide financial benefits to people who experience injuries on on the job or perhaps who develop work-related illnesses. If you are one of the many people who works on a boat, ship or in some related areas, you may have access to benefits like these but you would not be covered under standard workers' compensation laws. Instead, your benefits would be pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

As explained by the United States Department of Labor, the LHWCA essentially acts as the workers' compensation program for maritime employees. Certainly an injury that results from some type of incident on a job site is one of the first things that people think of when they consider the need for these benefits. However, the LHWCA may provide payments for people who have qualifiying occupational diseases or who have contracted illnesses connected to their maritime employment.

Reporting unsanitary conditions may be protected action

New Yorkers, like people everywhere, do not like to talk about it, but everyone needs to use the bathroom throughout the workday. If there are insufficient facilities for doing so or no means for washing one’s hands afterward, this lack causes some valid health concerns. Workers may feel silly bringing up the matter to a supervisor, but the health threat is real.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even the smallest amount of feces on one’s hands carries tons of germs that can cause diarrhea and spread serious respiratory infections. Germs can easily be spread to anything touched by someone with unclean hands, such as tables, chairs and handrails. Because people touch their mouths, eyes and noses several times each day, anyone who touches those same surfaces may pick up the germs.

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