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Jury awards shipmate $4.4 million in Jones Act negligence claim

Like many New Yorkers, you may be employed by a shipowner, working toward career advancements that will ensure you a good income and a job you love at sea. According to the New York Law Journal, Meagan Golden was one such crew member, employed on a vessel owned by OSG Ship Management. Her goals were destroyed when she suffered a career-ending injury while handling cargo on the ship.

Golden, who was a third mate on the ship, suffered damage to her shoulder that required multiple surgeries. Even after recovery, she was deemed unable to return to her work to pursue the dream she had of becoming a captain. We at Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha provided representation for Golden when she decided to take the shipowner to court.

Federal law requires shipowners to provide maintenance and cure while an injured employee is undergoing medical treatment. However, there is also a portion of the Jones Act stating that if a vessel is not seaworthy, a negligent shipowner could be responsible for further damages when a worker is hurt. Golden argued that the ship was unseaworthy based on the following acts of negligence on the part of the shipowner:

  • The company failed to indicate the number of crew members available to perform cargo-handling duties.
  • The company did not conduct a risk analysis or break cargo down into ergonomically designed packaging for safe handling.
  • There were no mechanical devices in place to assist with the handling of cargo.

The case was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and in response to these claims, the jury ruled that the vessel was indeed unseaworthy. They awarded Golden $838,000 for the earnings she had already lost, plus her pain and suffering to date. They also determined that she should receive an award of over $3.6 million for future pain and suffering, as well as the loss of earnings and benefits that would have been part of the career she had planned for her future.

More information about the Jones Act is available on our webpage.

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