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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Employers must take appropriate steps to mitigate risks of injury to seamen

For anyone who makes a living by working aboard a barge, ocean liner, fishing boat or cruise ship; there are certain risks and dangers that are inherent to working on any water-bound vessel. Depending on the type of ship and nature of one's work, an individual may suffer injury or death due to a slip-and-fall, equipment failure, fall overboard, exposure to hazardous materials and being struck by a falling object.

Like any employer, ship owners and sea captains have a duty to protect workers from suffering injury or death by providing a safe and hazard-free environment. While there are obviously certain known hazards to working aboard any type of sea vessel, an employer must ensure workers are properly trained and equipped with the appropriate safety gear.

A lawsuit was recently filed by a seaman who suffered severe back injuries while working aboard a large barge. According to the lawsuit, the man's employer instructed that he "manually move a 20-foot...hose from the deck of one barge to another." Despite the fact that this type of equipment is of considerable weight, the man's employer failed to provide an "adequate lifting device."

Consequently, the man suffered serious and painful injuries to his lower back which will necessitate surgical intervention. In addition to the pain and suffering he's experienced, in his lawsuit the man also cites psychological pain, disability, loss of enjoyment, lost wages, diminished earning capacity and medical expenses. He is seeking maintenance and cure totaling $3.65 million.

Employers who fail to take measures to protect seamen from suffering painful physical injuries should be held accountable. Under the Jones Act, injured seaman can file a claim for maintenance and cure to account for daily living and medical expenses.

Source: Louisiana Record, "Seaman asserting back injury sues Lebeouf Bros. Towing," Carol Ostrow, Sept. 21, 2015

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