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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.
  • $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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What is the Jones Act and to whom do its provisions apply?

Anyone who works aboard a sea vessel faces certain inherent risks and dangers. Seamen are often forced to perform work-related duties while battling inclement weather and rough sea conditions. Even in calm conditions; equipment may malfunction, slippery conditions onboard a vessel may result in an individual suffering injuries related to a slip and fall or the negligent actions of a co-worker may put an individual's physical health and wellbeing in jeopardy.

Considering the dangerous working conditions that accompany employment aboard a sea vessel, in 1920, seamen were afforded legal protections with the enaction of the Jones Act. Under the Jones Act, a seaman who is injured as a result of another individual's negligent are allowed to seek compensation related to his or her pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost earnings and other loss of income.

The Jones Act has strict requirements that must be met before an individual can take any legal action. An individual must be able to prove that he or she was employed as a "seaman" at the time an injury occurred. In general in order to qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act an individual "worker must aid in the fulfillment of the vessel's mission." Under this definition, dock workers and longshoremen are excluded.

Additionally, a seaman must work aboard a legal sea vessel or, as defined by the Jones Act, "a watercraft ... used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water." This definition is inclusive of cargo ships, commercial fishing boats and cruise ships; however, stationary oil rigs are excluded and therefore oil rig workers are not protected under the Jones Act.

In addition to providing legal remedy for an injured seaman, in the event of death, the Jones Act may also be incited to aid a seaman's family members in recovering compensation.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Jones Act Overview," 2015

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