$1,650,000 – Torn Rotator Cuff and Torn Bicep
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Type of action: Admiralty/Maritime
Injuries alleged: torn rotator cuff and torn bicep
Name of case: Plaintiff v. Hawk Scallop, Co, Inc.
Court/case #: United States District Court, District of Massachusetts 09-cv-10682 RWZ
Tried before judge or jury (or mediation): Trial
Name of judge: Judge Rya Zobel
Amount (specify award or settlement): $1,650,000.00
Date (of verdict or settlement): January 28, 2011
Summary of Evidence
The Plaintiff, 52 years old, was a captain on board a scallop boat. On Monday, September 10, 2007, the Plaintiff returned to the vessel with the crew to do gear work and prepare the vessel to go back out fishing the next day. The Plaintiff went into the wheel house to turn on a piece of equipment and found oil on the deck of the wheelhouse and the galley. He was able to clean up some of the oil over the wheel house deck with the paper towels, but he ran out of paper towels. As the Plaintiff went to get additional paper towels, the Plaintiff slipped and fell on the oil. The oil was left by the Defendant’s repair crew that had failed to clean up after they worked on the vessel’s equipment during the vessel’s layup.
As a result of the accident, the Plaintiff sustained a torn rotator cuff and a torn bicep. Initially, the Plaintiff was treated conservatively with steroid injections and then eventually had arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff and torn bicep tendon. After the surgery, the Plaintiff continued to experience aches, pain and fatigue in the bicep, which his doctor testified was permanent. The Plaintiff was unable to return to commercial fishing or do heavy physical labor.
Plaintiff presented evidence that when the vessel was in port it was Defendant’s duty to repair and maintain the vessel to get the vessel ready to go back to sea and that the Defendant’s shore repairman had a duty to clean up his messes after completing work on the vessel. Plaintiff argued that the Defendant was negligent in that the Defendant failed to clean up oil that had accumulated during the repair process and that the Defendant failed to provide the Plaintiff with a safe place to work by having oil on the deck. Also, Plaintiff argued that oil on the pilot house deck was an unseaworthy condition.
Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s accident did not even happen in that there was no oil on the deck on the date of the accident and that Plaintiff never fell on vessel on September 10, 2007 and that in the alternative, if there was oil, Plaintiff caused his own accident by failing to properly clean the oil and take steps to avoid falling.
The jury found negligence, unseaworthiness, no contributory negligence and awarded $1,650,000.00 for past and future lost wages and past and future pain and suffering and mental anguish.