$1,020,000 – Finger Amputation

Amount: $1,020,000

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Admiralty

Jones Act – Finger Amputation

Amount of settlement: $1.02 Million

Injuries alleged: Amputation of right ring and little finger

Name of case: Plaintiff v. Weeks Marine

Court/case#: U.S. District Court, No. 95-12137-DPW

Tried before judge or jury: Settled

Name of judge: Douglas P. Woodlock

Amount of settlement: $1.02 Million

Date: November 1996

Highest offer: $1.02 Million

Most helpful experts: Keith Lawrence, Michigan and Mark Fithian, Maryland

Attorney for plaintiff: Michael B. and Carolyn M. Latti, Latti Associates, Boston

Attorney for defendants: Withheld

The plaintiff was a chief engineer aboard a hopper dredge (a vessel used to remove mud and silt from the bottom of water) for the defendant, Weeks Marine. The plaintiff sustained permanent damage to his right hand when he was injured during the course of his employment aboard the hopper dredge, R.N. WEEKS. The plaintiff’s little and ring finger on his right dominant hand were crushed during the process of removing a trunnion (large, heavy metal horseshoe shaped equipment that holds the suction arm) from the trunnion-slide on the hopper dredge. Subsequently, the plaintiff’s two fingers on his right hand were amputated.

There was a set procedure for removing the trunnion from the trunnion-slide that was established by the port engineer several months prior to the accident. However, on the day of the accident, a different procedure was utilized for the removal of the trunnion. Liability focused on the proper methods to remove the trunnion from the trunnion-slide.

The case settled approximately two months prior to the scheduled trial date. The large settlement for the loss of two fingers was achieved, because during a deposition the captain, who was right alongside the plaintiff at the time of his accident, testified that the plaintiff was distracted by a crew member who yelled to the plaintiff immediately prior to the accident. However, prior to that crew member’s deposition, the crew member told the plaintiff’s investigator that he never yelled to the plaintiff at that time. In addition, the defendant’s expert conceded that the captain was at fault for the plaintiff’s accident.

The settlement of $1,021,988 was later structured to a projected yield of $1,933,000; $475,000 up front, monthly payments of $2,500 for life, 20 years guaranteed, totaling $446,728 and payment every five years totaling $300,000.

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