$2,450,000 – Below Knee Leg Amputation

Award Amount: $2,450,000
Location: Portland, Maine

Admiralty
Jones Act- Below Knee Leg Amputation
Amount of settlement: $2.45 Million
Injuries alleged: Below the Knee Amputation of Right Leg
Name of case: Benson v. USA
Court/case#: U.S. District Court, District of Maine, Nos. 04-195, 05-46
Tried before judge or jury: N/A (settled)
Name of judge: Judge Singal
Amount of settlement: $2.45 Million
Date: November 2005
Attorneys for plaintiff: Carolyn M. Latti and David F. Anderson, Latti & Anderson LLP, Boston
Attorney for defendant: Withheld

Plaintiff, 52 years old, was employed by MAERSK Lines, Ltd as a second mate on board the USNS WATSON, a 950 roll on roll off vessel which is owned by the US Navy, Military Sealift Command. Suit was brought against the United States pursuant to the Suits in Admiralty Act and Public Vessels Act.

On November 10, 2002, the USNS WATSON was in Port Salalah, Oman. Plaintiff’s accident involved the releasing of the mooring lines to a tug. In order to release the lines a winch is used. However, on that day, the winch malfunctioned and the Plaintiff and crew were forced to manually release the line. As Plaintiff manually released the line by hand, the strain on the line was rapidly increasing from the tug reeling in its line, the USNS WATSON steaming away or a combination of both. Plaintiff’s right leg got caught in the line and was ripped off.

Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant was negligent and that the USNS WATSON was unseaworthy in that the Captain failed to stop the operation when he learned that the winch was not working and order an alternate way to release the lines, that the Captain failed to notify the tug that additional time was needed to release the lines due to the malfunctioning of the winch, that the Captain failed to order additional crew to assist in manually releasing the lines when he became aware of the number of crew and that the winch was malfunctioning, that the winch malfunctioned and that the USNS WATSON was well underway at the time the lines were released. Defendant claimed that Plaintiff was in charge of the operation, that the winch did in fact work and was not operated properly and that Plaintiff employed and improper procedure to manually release the lines

Due to the accident, the Plaintiff sustained a traumatic amputation of his right lower extremity. To this date, the Plaintiff continues to experience severe pain, including phantom pain.

The case settled during the discovery phase for $2.45 Million.