$3,000,000.00 – Traumatic Brain Injury Settlement
Award Amount: $3,000,000
TRIAL/SETTLEMENT REPORT FORMS
Type of action: Admiralty
Injuries alleged: traumatic brain injury
Tried before judge or jury (or mediation): settled after two mediations
Amount(specify award or settlement): $3,000,000.00
Date (of verdict or settlement): January 2023
Attorney for plaintiff(s) and city of office: Carolyn M. Latti, David F. Anderson, Latti & Anderson LLP 30-31 Union Wharf, Boston, MA 02109
Summary of Case:
Plaintiff, 28 years old, was a commercial fisherman on a scallop vessel and had fished for numerous years prior to his injury.
To enter the fish hold which was below deck, there was a raised platform that had a hatch cover that provided entrance to a ladder to the fish hold below deck. The hatch cover consisted of two hatch covers, a large and a small. The large hatch cover could be lifted off and would be taken off at the end of the trip for unloading scallops. The small hatch cover was used to access the fish hold during the trip and was secured to the large hatch cover by hinges and had a stopper on the top of the hatch cover. When the small hatch cover opened past 90 degrees, the small hatch cover would fall back onto the stopper and would rest on the large hatch cover at about 132 degrees. At the time of the Plaintiff’s injury, there was no safety mechanism to prevent the small hatch cover from slamming back down into the closed position when in the open position. It was standard fishing operations, to throw tools on the large hatch cover and to keep a wooden toolbox in the area where the stopper of the small hatch cover rested on the large hatch cover.
The Plaintiff was injured when he was leaning over the open hatch cover to retrieve a bag of scallops when the small hatch cover smashed down on his head causing him to sustain a traumatic brain injury. Plaintiff alleged that the stopper either landed on tools or the toolbox, causing it to be at angle less than 132 degrees whereby vessel movement and operation of equipment of the vessel caused the small hatch cover to slam down on the Plaintiff.
Liability in this case focused on the failure of the small hatch cover to have a mechanism that guards against the hatch cover from inadvertently slamming down and in allowing the tool box and/or tools to be left on the large hatch cover, as if materials inadvertently got caught under the stopper, it would prevent the hatch cover from reaching its fully opened position on the stopper and the likely of an accidental closing of the small hinged hatch cover increased.
Defendant argued that the small hatch cover fell due to Plaintiff pulling it down on himself or that he tripped and fell into the hatch cover causing it to slam down.
The Plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury, post and persistent concussion syndrome and was diagnosed with bipolar, psychotic disorder and personality changes due to traumatic brain injury.
Due to no finding of a brain injury on the MRI and CT scans, Defendant claimed Plaintiff was disabled for only several months and any symptoms of Plaintiff were the result of excessive marijuana use and Plaintiff faking the extent of his injury. Six and half years post injury, Plaintiff had still not returned to any type of work. Plaintiff presented a loss wage claim and claim for future medical cost.
This case involved extensive discovery of Defendant deposing all family members, girlfriends, ex-wife to Plaintiff’s treating physicians and Defendant hiring numerous medical and liability experts. Case settled after two mediations a year apart, denials of motion for summary judgment and motion to exclude experts and prior to trial.