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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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Accidents and crimes on the high seas: Jones Act FAQ

The authority of a ship's captain and the protection of the Jones Act are two important items to understand if you work or travel in international waters. Here are eight frequently asked questions about laws covering accidents and crimes at sea.

1. Where do international waters start?

The "high seas" or international waters are 12 nautical miles from the low water or baseline of a coastal state.

2. Are lakes international waters?

Yes. International waters can also refer to a lake in another country where a vessel is sailing.

3. What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal statute. It was created so that ship crew members, usually on merchant vessels, could recover damages if they were injured. It also affords protection to a crewmember's spouse, children or family if the crewmember dies from an accident while working shipboard.

4. What if the ship is in another country when an accident happens?

If you work for a company that transports goods through foreign waters you are still covered under the Jones Act. This means if you get sick or are injured due to negligence or poor working conditions you can seek financial compensation from the owner of the ship or the company. It does not matter that the ship was outside the United States when your illness or injury happened.

5. Which workers are covered?

The Jones Act covers any worker with a strong connection to the ship. This includes captains, food servers, bar tenders; basically all staff and crew.

6. What if the ship or vessel is docked when an accident happens?

If the ship or vessel is currently staffed and in use then it is covered under the Jones Act.

7. What happens if a crime is committed in international waters?

While no country can claim sovereignty in international waters, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), countries can apply their laws and jurisdiction to what happens to people in international waters. This means if you are on a ship flying the U.S. flag you are held to United States laws.

8. Does a ship's captain have absolute authority?

Yes. The captain is responsible for the safety of the ship, passengers and crew. If a crime is committed on a ship then the ship's captain will most likely restrain the alleged perpetrator until the boat is once again at a U.S port. The captain can also drop the perpetrator off at the next port of call- either at the port, or to the local authorities. If the alleged perpetrator is a crew member the captain will most likely detain the crew member in a guarded room and bring the member back to the U.S for an investigation and possible charges.

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