$500,000 – Unsafe Gear Retrieval

Award Amount: $500,000

Admiralty

Jones Act – Unsafe Retrieval Of Gear – Herniated Disc

Amount of settlement: $500,000

Injuries alleged: Herniated disc, rotator cuff tear, lacerated liver

Name of case: Plaintiff v. Oliveira & Silva Fishing Corp.

Court/case#: U.S. District Court, No. 97-12830-PBS

Tried before judge or jury: N/A (settled)

Judge: Patti B. Saris

Special damages: $220,000-$300,000 in lost wages

Amount of settlement: $500,000 (plus interest)

Date: October 1998

Highest offer: $500,000

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

Attorney for defendant: Withheld

On Nov. 7, 1997, the 55-year-old plaintiff, a seaman and a crew member on the defendant’s vessel, was hauling gear when the ground wires parted and the vessel lost its gear. To retrieve the gear, the crew was ordered to use a jilsen hook. As the gear was being hoisted on the vessel, the line came out of the jilsen hook and the gear struck the plaintiff. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained a L4-5 disc herniation, right shoulder dislocation, rotator cuff tear, multiple abdominal injuries, lacerated liver and kidney hematoma.

The plaintiff claimed that: the hoisting procedure and operation were dangerous; the defendant failed to maintain the vessel; and that the defendant didn’t provide a safe working environment place. The plaintiff contended that the broken ground wires were frayed and rusted and that a winch head was never repaired, although crew members had previously lodged complaints about the condition of both.

The plaintiff also alleged that the line surged off the winch head because the winch was broken or lacked the proper cover. In addition, the plaintiff claimed that the failure to tie or mouse the line to the jilsen hook was dangerous and unsafe.

The case settled prior to going to trial.

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