$837,500 – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Amount : $837,500

Type of action: Admiralty/Maritime

Injuries alleged: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, neuropathic pain and triangular fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC)

Tried before judge or jury (or mediation): Settled

Amount (specify award or settlement): $837,500.00

Date (of verdict or settlement): July 2011

Summary of Evidence

Plaintiff’s accident happened at dock when empty clam cages were being lowered back into the hold of the vessel. Once the cages are in the fish hold, the crew members have to move the cages closer together to eliminate any gaps in order to avoid clams falling through to the deck. It was practice and procedure on board the vessel to use shovels to pull the cage and drag them closer to the next cage.

The Plaintiff was working with a fellow crew member, pulling the clams cages together with a shovel. At the time of the incident, the Plaintiff was standing on the cages using a shovel to pull another cage into its correct position. While doing this, the handle of the shovel separated from the shovel itself, causing the Plaintiff to fall backwards into one of the cages causing injury to his left arm and wrist.

Plaintiff was diagnosed with a torn TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage complex) and had arthroscopic surgery to repair it. Additionally, the Plaintiff was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/ reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

As a result of the injury, the Plaintiff’s has consistent persistent pain, constant aching, burning, stabbing, sharp pain in hands and forearm. In order to help decrease the pain, Plaintiff a permanent spinal cord stimulator electrode and battery implant in his spine.

In this case, the Defendant was negligent in that it failed to provide the Plaintiff with a safe place to work, failed to provide the proper equipment or tool(s) such as a boat hook to pull the clam cages together, in using the procedure of pulling the shovels closer together and the Defendant failed to stop the procedure of using the shovels, develop a new procedure to pull the cages closer together or provide an alternative piece of equipment or tool(s) to pull the cages closer together. The Plaintiff alleges that the vessel was unseaworthy in that the shovel which the Plaintiff was using at the time of his injury was defective and not fit for the purpose for which it was intended and used. More specifically, the handle of shovel broke off while being used as the Defendant instructed and intended it to be used. Further, the shovel was not a proper, safe or fit piece of equipment to use as a hook for moving cages. The Plaintiff further alleges the vessel was unseaworthy as the vessel was not equipped with the proper equipment, such as a long steel hook, a boat hook, with which to safely move the cages within the hold. The Plaintiff claims that the improperly loaded cages, with gaps between them, created an unseaworthy condition which caused or contributed to the Plaintiff’s injury. Additionally, the improper procedure and practice of using the shovels to move the cases created an unseaworthy vessel.

Plaintiff also had a failure to pay maintenance and cure claim.

Plaintiff could not return back to fishing but could work in a limited capacity that worked within his limitations.