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ARTICLE ID 193524

$________ Jones Act Case – Alleged unseaworthy private yacht – Absence of handrails – Plaintiff Captain slips on wet bottom step on three-step stairway and suffers labrum tear to shoulder on dominant arm when plaintiff instinctively reaches for handrail – Two arthroscopic surgical interventions

Hudson County, NJ

This case involved a plaintiff in his early 30s who was the Captain of the private yacht owned by the defendant. The plaintiff maintained that as he was carrying the trash down the three-step stairway on the port side, he slipped on the bottom step, which happened to be wet. The plaintiff contended that although the vessel contained a "cap railing," which was situated at the top of the staircase, and ran around the perimeter of the vessel, which could be reached by an individual losing their balance on the two top steps, the stairway did not contain a railing, and nothing could be reached in the event of a slip on the bottom step.

The plaintiff’s expert naval architect contended that such a safeguard should have been used. The defendant denied that a handrail was required by any code or regulation, and that the absence of one did not render the vessel unseaworthy.

Such a railing would be required on a commercial vessel, and the plaintiff would have argued that similar safety principles applied.

The plaintiff proceeded under the Jones Act, which provides for pure comparative negligence, and the relaxed proximate cause standard that would hold a defendant liable if the unseaworthiness constituted a cause, "however slight."

The plaintiff suffered a torn labrum to the dominant shoulder, and required two arthroscopic surgical interventions. Past medical bills and lost wages were paid as part of the "maintenance and cure" mandated by the statute.

The plaintiff contended that he will suffer permanent pain and difficulties reaching. The plaintiff did not contend that he would be unable to return to a ship’s Captain’s duties.The case settled prior to trial for $________

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