$991,000 – Severed Tendons

Award Amount: $991,000

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Admiralty

Negligence – Unseaworthiness

Amount of award: $991,000

Injuries alleged: Severed tendons of the left hand

Name of case: Plaintiff v. Starlight I. Inc.

Court/case#: U.S. District Court, Boston, No. 90-12198-REK

Tried before judge or jury: Jury

Name of judge: Robert B. Collings

Special damages: $50,000, medicals

Amount of award: $991,000

Date: May 19, 1995

Demand: $250,000

Highest offer: None

Most helpful experts: Capt. George Edwards, Mattapoisett

Insurance carrier: Neptune Mutual (primary insurer); Lloyds (excess insurer)

Attorney for plaintiff: David F. Anderson, Latti Associates, Boston

Attorney for defendant: Withheld

The case was previously tried in July 1994 before Judge Robert F. Keeton when the jury returned a verdict of $350,000 in favor of the plaintiff. In December 1994, the court granted the defendant’s motion for a new trial. The case was subsequently transferred on retrial before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings.

The plaintiff, a commercial fisherman, cut his hand while working with a knife repairing a fishing net hanging from the stern of the defendant’s vessel. The plaintiff ordered evidence that immediately prior to the accident the plaintiff requested that the captain slow the vessel down and lower the net onto the deck in a position where it could be safely worked on. According to the plaintiff, the captain refused. He further testified that he cut himself when a fellow crew member, who was holding the net, slipped on the deck and pulled the net causing the plaintiff to cut his hand. The plaintiff offered evidence that at the time of the accident, the deck of the defendant’s fishing vessel had not been properly maintained in accordance with the customs and practices within the fishing industry.

As a result of the injury, the plaintiff served the tendons and nerves in the index and long fingers of his left hand. The plaintiff offered evidence that because of this injury he was permanently disabled from an occupation within the commercial fishing industry.

The defendant gave evidence that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by his own negligence, offering a statement taken from the plaintiff in support of its assertions. The defendant further asserted that the plaintiff was able to return to his occupation as a commercial fisherman.

The jury found the defendant negligent and found the vessel unseaworthy and awarded $168,000 in past and $800,000 in future damages. The jury found no comparative negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

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