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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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Jones Act Archives

Tabak Mellusi & Shisha client receives $4.4 million jury verdict

In 2011, Meagan Golden was an aspiring sea captain working as a third mate on a tanker, the M/V Overseas Cascade. The 25-year-old's career was cut short, however, by a serious shoulder injury that led to several surgeries.

How does negligence affect a case under the Jones Act?

When you take your employer to court in New York for a Jones Act negligence claim, you must show that he or she did not act in the way a reasonable person would. The Manual of Model Civil Jury Instructions for the District Courts of the Ninth Circuit explains that the negligence could be a failure to make sure the vessel is seaworthy, or it could be failure to hire an adequate number of crew members who are trained for their duties, among other violations.

Determining a shipowner's negligence

Unsafe conditions at sea can put a New York seaman's life in danger where those same conditions on land may not be much of a safety issue. Because of provisions in the Jones Act, someone who is injured while working on a ship may be able to hold the shipowner liable for negligence. According to Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute, negligence is acting without a reasonable level of care for another's safety, or failing to act in a reasonable way to keep another safe. 

Defining "in the service of the vessel"

Those in Manhattan who work in the maritime industry are likely well-aware of the perils that they face from their profession. The heightened risk that they encounter while on the job has prompted policy makers to extend them added protections through the Jones Act. Section 30104 of this Act (as shared by the Cornell University Law School) clearly stipulates that injured seamen are allowed to bring action against their employers. It is also clear in detailing that one's injury must be sustained during the course of employment to qualify for this relief. 

Jones Act may cost U.S. up to $15B per year

New York residents who have ever found themselves in gridlock and looked around to see a host of semi trucks or other large commercial vehicles carrying goods may logically wonder why so much commercial transport still relies on ground transportation. Even though the New York City area has designed truck routes in an attempt to alleviate some of the problems and dangers, the number of trucks on the road does pose issues on a daily basis.

Should the Jones Act be repealed?

If you work in the shipping industry in New York, you have likely heard of the Jones Act. You may even have strong feelings about it. You wouldn't be alone. Many people have boisterous opinions about this law from the 1920s. Most of them feel it is time to retire it completely and allow for better, less restrictive regulations to take its place.

On a course toward unmanned cargo ships

The day when a ship may leave a port in New York without a crew member aboard is out there, although the exact date is still up in the air. According to IEEE Spectrum, designers are currently working on the technology to make unmanned cargo ships a reality, and trial runs have even been held. Proponents believe the safety benefits of a ship controlled by robotic and remote means could eliminate the thousands of mariner deaths each year.

Accident on tugboat leaves crew member without an arm

Working on a tugboat in New York Harbor presents unique challenges and hazards, as these vessels are designed to push or pull other vessels from place to place. Equipment and duties on a tugboat may put seamen at risk in cases of negligence, such as improperly performed maintenance or inadequate training for the jobs at hand.

Before you receive compensation under the Jones Act

Any New Yorker who is injured on the job should have some recourse for receiving compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, the workers’ compensation laws that apply to employers in the state are not the same as those that apply to maritime employers. According to the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Circuit, a seaman who sustains an injury because of the employer’s negligence may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim.

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