$475,000 – Loss of Hearing

Award Amount: $475,000

Jones Act – Loss of Hearing
Amount of settlement: $475,000
Injuries alleged: Loss of hearing, tinnitus, anxiety, depression
Name of case: Plaintiff v. Mobil Oil Corp.
Court/case#: U.S. District Court, No. 97-12014-DPW
Tried before judge or jury: N/A (settled)
Judge: Douglas P. Woodlock
Amount of settlement: $475,000
Date: Nov. 5, 1998
Most helpful experts: Joseph Smullin, sound engineer; Dr. Lofgren, otolaryngologist; Dr. Louis Hafken, psychiatrist
Attorneys for plaintiff: Michael B. Latti and Carolyn M. Latti, Latti Associates, Boston
Attorney for defendant: Withheld

From November 1994 to April 1995 the plaintiff was employed as a cook by the defendant corporation on the sailing vessel. The plaintiff claimed that he was continuously exposed to excessive and deafening noise.

The plaintiff contended that, as a result of his exposure to the noise, he developed tinnitus, loss of hearing, insomnia, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and short term memory loss.

In August 1994, the vessel was initiated into the defendant corporation’s fleet. Within the first month of use of the vessel, seaman were complaining of excessive noise in various areas of the tug.

Two months after receipt of the complaints, the defendant hired an acoustical engineering firm to test the sound levels on the vessel. The tests revealed that certain areas of the vessel were above guidelines and that the vessel was not habitable. Modifications to alleviate the sound on the vessel were not performed until approximately June 1995.

Liability focused on the defendant’s alleged failure to provide a seaworthy vessel, to perform repairs and modifications on the vessel and to alert the crew of the excessive noise levels within a reasonable time.

The plaintiff’s expert contended that the sound levels in the galley and in the plaintiff’s quarters were significantly higher than recorded due to the fact that the original testing was not done when the vessel was towing and did not take into account various continuous noises on the vessel.

© 1999 Lawyers Weekly Inc., All Rights Reserved.