$474,653 – Broken Finger

Award Amount: $474,653

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Admiralty

Unloading Of Container Barge – Broken Finger

Amount of award: $474,653

Injuries alleged: Broken right ring finger, dislocated right little finger

Name of case: Plaintiff v. Columbia Coastal Transport, Inc.

Court/case#: U.S. District Court, No. 97-11307-WAG

Tried before judge or jury: Jury

Judge: W. Arthur Garrity Jr.

Special damages: $18,316 in medical bills; $375,000 lost earnings/lost earning capacity

Amount of award: $474,653

Date: Oct. 2, 1998

Most helpful experts: Charles Cushing, transportation consultant; Robert Noonan, longshoreman consultant

Attorneys for plaintiff: Michael B. Latti and David J. Berg, Latti Associates, Boston

Attorney for defendant: Withheld

On Oct. 17, 1996, the 61-year-old plaintiff was injured while working as a gang boss unloading a deck container from a container barge, which was owned and operated by the defendant, onto truck chassis at Conley Terminal in South Boston. The plaintiff was injured while attempting to remove a jammed manual twist lock from a container while the container was about 2 to 3 feet above a truck chassis. As the plaintiff attempted to remove the twist lock, the container allegedly dropped and crushed his hand between the container and the truck chassis.

The plaintiff’s experts opined that the only possible reason that a manual twist lock could come out of its deck socket was that the twist lock was broken or defective, and that a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury was the twist lock coming out of its deck socket with the container.

The defendant contended that the plaintiff was negligent for attempting to remove the twist lock while the container was directly over the truck chassis.

The plaintiff’s lay and expert longshoremen testimony alleged that longshoremen customarily take out all kinds of twist locks in containers while the containers are directly over the truck chassis, and that they do not find this procedure to be dangerous in any way.

As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered a fractured right ring finger and dislocated right little finger, and a 65-percent loss of function of those two fingers.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $593,316, which was reduced by the court to $474,653, based on the jury’s finding of 20-percent contributory negligence.

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