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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Ship's owner plays vital role in providing for safety of commercial fishermen

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consistently ranks the commercial fishing industry as one of the most dangerous of all U.S. industries. The safety and health of individuals who work on commercial fishing ships are often at the mercy of both the weather and a ship's owner.

According to the CDC, from 2000 to 2010 a total of 545 commercial fishermen died while officially on the job. Of these deaths, just over 50 percent "occurred after a vessel disaster.” Additionally, roughly 30 percent were attributed to falls overboard and 10 percent resulted from injuries suffered while aboard a ship.

Commercial fishermen face numerous hazards while working aboard a vessel. While turbulent weather conditions are out of a ship owner's control, how a ship and its equipment are maintained can greatly impact the safety of those onboard. For example, equipment that hasn't been properly maintained or secured could malfunction or come lose and a fisherman could end up being hit or pushed overboard.

A report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health examined the causes of the 165 commercial fishing fatalities that occurred along the United States’ east coast between 2000 and 2009. Based on this investigation, NIOSH issued formal recommendations for how to reduce the number of worker fatalities related to vessel disasters, falls overboard and on-board injuries. In addition to conducting regular equipment maintenance and safety checks; NIOSH also recommended that ship owners install emergency machinery stop devices.

Loved ones who have lost a spouse, parent, child or sibling in a commercial fishing accident would be wise to seek information about the specific cause of death. In cases where equipment and machinery malfunctions contributed to a loved one's death, it’s wise to consult with an attorney who handles maritime and admiralty law matters.

Source: CDC.gov, "Commercial Fishing Safety," 2014

NIOSH.gov, "Fatal Occupational Injuries in the U.S. Commercial Fishing Industry: Risk Factors and Recommendations," 2014

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