The following cases are examples of results obtained by law firms working with the ISA.
To find out how the ISA can assist you, please contact us now.
SOSA vs. M/VLAGO IZABAL
$25,843,903 was awarded to a 27-year-old Mexican seaman earning $8,224 annually after he received serious burns aboard the defendant's freighter when the engine exploded.
The plaintiff was employed by Defendant Tracey Navigation, a shipping company based in the Cayman Islands, and worked in the position of Oiler aboard the defendant's vessel, monitoring the engine room machines for proper functioning. Three months after plaintiff was hired to work, the vessel's engine exploded as the ship attempted to dock in Texas. Diesel fuel spilled over plaintiff and ignited. He sustained second and third degree burns over 80% of his body, resulting in severe scarring, loss of use of the hands, which are frozen in a claw-like position, vision and hearing impairment, sexual dysfunction, and totally disabling psychiatric injuries. The defendant paid $190,000 for plaintiff's medical expenses prior to trial.
The plaintiff brought suit against the vessel and shipping company under general maritime law alleging that the vessel was rendered unseaworthy by the unsafe condition of the engine. Evidence revealed that on the vessel's last voyage the engine had broken down and caught fire twice. The captain had ordered the ship to sail before requested replacement parts for the engine were procured. The plaintiff contended that the defendant shipping company knew that the ship's engine was not functioning properly and needed repairs and that periodic maintenance of the vessel's machinery had not been performed.
The defendant challenged the court's jurisdiction on the grounds that the Suit involved a Mexican national suing a Grand Cayman corporation whose vessel used Mexico as its homeport. The federal district court rules that U.S. jurisdiction over plaintiff's action is proper. Despite the vessel's registration and the shipping company's claims that it was based in a foreign nation, the court finds that defendant's real base of operations for the management of the vessel was in Houston, Texas: the vessel regularly loaded cargo in Houston; employees salaries were paid through a Houston bank; and 90% of the shareholders of the shipping company were U.S. residents.
The court states that the vessel was unseaworthy due to the explosion of its engine while in normal use. The defendant shipping company, having had knowledge of the vessel's engine problems prior to the commencement of the voyage during which the engine exploded, was held liable for the bench award of $25,843,903 to the plaintiff. $10 million of the award was allocated to plaintiff's pain and suffering, and $10.9 million went toward plaintiff's future annual expenses including round-the-clock nursing care.
$25,843,903.00 awarded to seafarer
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ANDERSEN vs. SKY CRUISES
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant Sky Cruises (also known as Sea Escape) improperly operated its sewage treatment system on board the passenger ship Scandinavian Sky in violation of Coast Guard regulations, so that it produced poisonous gases, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. When the decedent crewmember was ordered to do repair work on the system it resulted in a leak of raw sewage that filled the work area knee high. In addition poison gas caused the crewmember to become unconscious within 10 to 15 seconds and then die. The incident resulted in the death of four crewmembers and injury to three other workers. The cases of the other three crewmembers deaths had been previously settled. This case was the first one to go to a jury.
Based on the foregoing, the plaintiff also claimed that the defendant was reckless with regard to safety in so far as the operation of the sewage system and requested punitive damages. In light of the fact that the seaman was not married and had no children, the Judge limited the available damages to pre-death pain and suffering and punitive damages.
The defendant claimed that the accident was unavoidable. The defendant also claimed that the seaman had disobeyed his orders and that the sewage system was in compliance with Coast Guard regulations. James Best, Marine Engineer and Architect, testified that the sewage, as a result, produced poison gas. Harry Baxley, Marine Surveyor, a Coast Guard investigator for the accident, testified that it violated the applicable Coast Guard regulation. Bonifacio Flores, M.D., medical examiner, testified that the crewmember was conscious for 10 to 15 seconds before death. He also stated that hydrogen sulfide was more deadly than cyanide. Alfred Isaacon, engineer, testified that the sewage system was in compliance with Coast Guard regulations. Vessel Staff Captain, Tommy Isakson, testified that the defendant was very concerned about safety. Vessel First Engineer, Raol Skoqlund, testified that a coast guard inspector had previously informed him that the operation of the sewage system was proper.
$6,100,000.00 awarded to seafarer's family
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IGAC vs. NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES
The plaintiff, a 29-year-old male waiter from Turkey, was injured during a lifeboat drill on the vessel Starward. The plaintiff was trying to hook a cable to the lifeboat when another crewmember stepped into his position forcing the plaintiff to step backwards to make room. The plaintiff slipped on a slick substance on the lifeboat, causing him to fall backwards out of the lifeboat 7 stories to the water below.
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant should have provided the crew in the lifeboat with safety belts. The defendant claimed that the accident was the plaintiff's fault because he was a passenger in the lifeboat and not supposed to be doing any work and also that the plaintiff stood on the seats, which was prohibited. The plaintiff sustained two fractured vertebrae and several bulging discs as a result of the accident. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff had ongoing back problems for years and that the fractures were not from the accident. The plaintiff also claimed injuries to his elbow and knee.
Dr. Lloyd Moriber, orthopedic surgeon, testified for the plaintiff that he had a 7% disability to the elbow and a 10% disability to the knee of which 50% was preexisting. Dr. Aldo Berti, neurosurgeon, testified that the plaintiff needed to have back surgery to stabilize his back, which would cost approximately $40,000. He also assigned a 20% disability to the back with respect to the fractures. Dr. Gary Lustgarten, neurosurgeon, testified that the plaintiff needed back surgery with respect to his herniated disc and that the surgery should be done in conjunction with Dr. Berti's proposed surgery and that the cost would be around $75,000. The ships doctor testified for the defendant, that the plaintiff did not have any bruising to his back after the accident although he did not muscle spasm. He testified that the plaintiff suffered a back sprain and that x-rays taken soon after the accident did not show any fractures. Dr. Alan Drexler, radiologist, testified that the bone scan taken 3 to 4 weeks after the accident was negative for fractures which indicated that the fractures were old and predated the accident on board the ship. Dr. Ken Fisher, neurologist, examined the plaintiff on behalf of the defendant but was not called as a witness at the trial.
The plaintiff claimed he could not work on board a vessel as a waiter anymore, where he was earning $3000 monthly including tips. In the future, he thought he could work as a hotel receptionist in Turkey for about $250 monthly. The jury found the plaintiff to be 15% comparatively negligent, which did not apply to the maintenance and cure award.
$662,165.00 awarded to seafarer
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NUNEZ vs. CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
The plaintiff, 39 years old, was from the Dominican Republic. He earned $528 monthly as a pantry or buffet worker making appetizers and salads on the vessel. The plaintiff was injured while working on board the defendant's vessel, Mardi Gras, when a stack of plastic boxes called lexons was being pushed and suddenly caught in a crack in the floor resulting in the plaintiff and the stack falling. The plaintiff cut his leg on a cracked or chipped lexon when he fell.
The plaintiff claimed that he should have been provided with a cart or more assistance to move the boxes. The defendant claimed that plaintiff chose an unsafe method of moving the boxes, and that he only scraped his leg. The plaintiff also claimed that he got improper and inadequate medical care since the cut became infected resulting in an aggravation of a preexisting varicose vein problem. The defendant claimed that plaintiff's aggravation lasted nine months at best and that plaintiff's remaining problems was due to the normal progression of venous insufficiency from the varicose veins.
Orthopedist Stephen Ticktin, M.D. testified for the plaintiff that the scrape which became infected aggravated the varicose vein problem and that the infection did not heal as fast due to the underlying varicose vein problem. Dr. Ticktin further testified that plaintiff had a 20% disability and could not work on vessels anymore, but could work on land at a sedentary job. Vascular surgeon, Dr. Sendischew testified by deposition for the plaintiff and the defendant that an aggravation occurred but that it did not permanently affect the preexisting varicose vein problem. Further Dr. Sendischew testified that after one month, of the leg not healing, the plaintiff should have been sent to a vascular specialist. As a result, the plaintiff had a delay in healing of about eight months. Dr. Stewart McIntyre, infectious disease specialist testified for defendant that plaintiff's infection, which resulted in a hospitalization, was not related to the incident and was the result of a virus that causes mono.
The defendant served an offer of judgment in the amount of $20,000. The jury found the defendant to be liable for Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness and failure to provide prompt, proper, and adequate medical care. The plaintiff was found to be 10% comparatively negligent.
$575,000.00 awarded to seafarer
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REFUGIA vs. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE
A 28-year-old Filipino waiter worked aboard the defendant's vessel, Legend of the Seas. While serving lunch aboard the vessel, the plaintiff was required to carry a tray filled with 16 main courses and covers. The size of the tray and the courses blocked his view of what, if anything, was on his waiter's stand. As such, the assistant waiter was supposed to keep the waiter stand clean. When the plaintiff started to put his tray down on the waiter stand, he felt a water glass on the stand. In trying to prevent the water glass from breaking under the weight of the tray and the tray from falling, the plaintiff tried to balance the tray and lift it back up. While doing this, he felt a "pop" in his left wrist.
As a result of ongoing pain in his left wrist, the defendant decided to sign the plaintiff off the ship for further medical treatment. The plaintiff had requested to be sent to Miami (as his brother was living in Florida at the time), however, the defendant denied this request and sent him to the Philippines for medical treatment. The plaintiff underwent surgery with a doctor selected by the defendant in the Philippines. The surgery resulted in the plaintiff not being able to turn his left wrist. The plaintiff then came to Miami, at his own expense, to obtain better medical treatment. In Miami, the defendant provided the plaintiff with a second surgery, which did not improve his condition. A third surgery was recommended by the defendant-selected Miami surgeon, however, the plaintiff was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) in his left arm subsequent to the first surgery which got worse after the second surgery. It was recommended to the Plaintiff that his RSD condition be controlled, via pain management procedures, prior to undergoing any further surgical procedures.
$560,000.00 obtained by seafarer
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