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$________ Jones Act – Failure to use reasonable care when instructing crew to set out gear – Plaintiff is injured when a large wave hit the rear of the vessel while the plaintiff and other crew member were releasing the net – Crush injury to leg when ramp door slams onto deck as wave hits.

U.S. District Court - District of Massachusetts

In this admiralty matter, the plaintiff, a crew member of the defendant boat, alleged that the boat and its captain were negligent. The boat required the ramp door necessary to release net to be placed at a 45 degree angle which placed the crew in danger. The captain was negligent in ordering the crew to open the ramp door and release the net when the boat was heading down sea in rough weather. As a result of the negligence, the plaintiff’s leg became caught between the ramp door and the deck when the boat hit a wave. The plaintiff sustained a crush injury to his leg. The defendant denied liability and maintained that the plaintiff’s injuries were as a result of his own negligence.

The 53-year-old plaintiff was a member of the crew on the defendant’s vessel. The plaintiff and another crew member had been instructed to release the net. This is done when the vessel is heading into the wind with the bow with the front of the boat hitting the waves. Instead, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s captain operated the boat in such a way that the waves were hitting the stern or back of the boat. In order to release the net, it was necessary to lower the ramp door by releasing the pins holding the door until it was at a 45-degree angle. At that same time, a large wave hit the boat on the stern end, where the plaintiff was located. The wave slammed into the ramp door causing it to slam onto the deck. The plaintiff’s leg became crushed between the ramp door and the deck.

The plaintiff was diagnosed with acute comminuted fractures of the distal left tibia and the distal left fibula. The plaintiff underwent multiple open reduction and internal fixation surgeries, as well as skin graft surgery. The plaintiff was unable to return to work following the incident.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant under the Jones Act alleging that the vessel was unseaworthy. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s captain instructed the crew to release the net in rough weather conditions. The plaintiff alleged that the net reels were too large for the vessel and caused the boat to be further weighed down on the stern end making it more susceptible to waves crashing up onto the ramp. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s captain failed to use reasonable care, given the condition of the boat, the condition of the weather and the seas in instructing the crew.

The defendant denied the allegations. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was at least partially responsible for his own injuries since he was sitting to the side on a piece of wood at the time he was opening the door.The parties agreed to a settlement of $________ to resolve the plaintiff’s claim in this matter prior to trial.

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