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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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Seaman Status Archives

Misconceptions about The Jones Act

The U.S. Congress long ago recognized the difficulty of enforcing land-based protections for workers on the high seas. As a result, the federal government established the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, often referred to as the Jones Act. This law outlines the rights and regulations regarding seamen and their employers. Understanding the Jones Act is important if you work away from dry land because many misconceptions have sprung up in regards to the law of the sea.

Seaman Status-2

With respect to the second, or substantial connection prong of the test, Supreme court emphasized that the "fundamental purpose" of this requirement is "to separate the sea-based maritime employees who are entitled to Jones Act protection from those land-based workers who have only a transitory or sporadic connection to a vessel in navigation, and therefore whose employment does not regularly expose them to the perils of the sea."

Seaman Status

Court's have continue to struggle towards a working criteria to mark the boundaries between seamen and land workers. The difference is important in regard to filing a claim for bodily injury. Those having seaman status are afforded the right to sue an employer for full tort damages which include past and future wage and related economic losses and pain and suffering. These rights arise under a federal statute known as the Jones Act 46 (USCA §30104) and under the General Maritime Law. The former allows a negligence based action, the latter an "unseaworthiness action". Those not having seaman status are limited to compensation under a State or Federal Workers' Compensation statute. Workers compensation statutes do not allow compensation for pain and suffering and allow only limited coverage for wage and economic losses. Other important differences between the two schemes are 1) filing dates, statutes of limitations and criteria to establish the claim.

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