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  • $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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Why you should consider the freeboard of a vessel before sailing

If you're unfamiliar with maritime terminology, as many across the nation are, then you've probably never heard of the term freeboard. Because you've never heard of it, you've also probably never considered how important it is when determining the safety of a vessel on certain waterways. In today's post, we'd like to explain what freeboard is to illustrate why you should consider it before operating a vessel.

For those who don't know, freeboard is the distance between the waterline and a ship's upper deck. This measurement is important when operating a vessel on certain waterways, particularly on large lakes and salt-water bodies, where sizeable waves are possible. If a ship's freeboard is too low, a sizeable wave could wash over the ship's deck, causing it to take on water and potentially sink in the process.

Now that you know what freeboard is, you understand its importance when operating vessels on certain bodies of water. You may even be able to think of a few ship accidents in which inadequate freeboard was to blame, such as the Argo shipwreck, which had ties to New York because of the ship's owner, a tug and barge businessman who operated a fleet around New York.

When ship operators fail to take into consideration a ship's freeboard, they inevitably put their crew in danger. As some shipwrecks have shown, crew may be seriously injured or even killed when a ship sinks after taking on too much water. In cases like this, surviving crew members and the families of those crew members who have been lost may have grounds to collect civil damages courtesy of the Jones Act.

It's important to point out, however, that filing a maritime claim for compensation can be challenging, which is why it's a good idea to seek legal counsel right away if you believe you have a claim for damages.

Source: Maritime.about.com, "Freeboard: What it Means and Why it's Important," Paul Bruno, Accessed Dec. 1, 2015

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