Mariner Awarded $2.8 Million in Suit

Mariner Awarded $2.8 Million In Suit
By John Doherty
The Standard-Times
May 19, 2001

WAREHAM – A Wareham mariner has won a $2.8 million award from an Exxon subsidiary after a federal jury ruled yesterday the company was negligent in an accident that broke the sailor’s leg.

Carlos Castro had worked 24 years for Seariver Maritime as a laborer on a 650-foot oil tanker, which delivers crude oil along the East Coast.

Mr. Castro was injured off the coast of Texas when several 4-feet-by-4-feet steel plates came loose from an overhead rack in March 1998.

The two bones in Mr. Castro’s lower leg were broken. He has walked with a cane ever since and cannot return to sea.

His attorney, Carolyn Latti, said Mr. Castro sued under provisions of the 80-year-old Jones Act, which allows seamen to sue their employers under some circumstances.

During the trial, Ms. Latti introduced evidence showing the rack holding the heavy steel plates had failed days earlier, and that the ship’s chief engineer had done nothing to correct it before Mr. Castro’s accident.

The jury award was $1.2 million for lost wages and $1.6 million for future pain and suffering.

Ms. Latti said she believed jurors also were convinced the company had tried to protect itself from accepting responsibility.

“From the moment he went to the ship’s hospital, they were already defending this case,” said Ms. Latti, who also represents the families of sailors killed on New Bedford’s Cape Fear, which sank in 1998.

Mr. Castro was asked to sign a statement asserting the accident was his fault, while he lay, heavily medicated, in the hospital.

Mr. Castro, reached home yesterday, referred all comments to Ms. Latti.

Attorney Seth Holbrook, who represented Seariver in the trial, declined comment yesterday.