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ARTICLE ID 193700

$________ – ADMIRALTY– DOCKING FACILITY NEGLIGENCE – FALL DOWN – DEFENDANT SPRAYED WATER ON DOCK WHICH FROZE – DECEDENT SLIPPED ON THE ICE THAT HAD FORMED ON THE DOCK AND FELL TO HIS DEATH – WRONGFUL DEATH

USDC, District of Massachusetts

In this admiralty matter, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant dock facility, and its staff, were negligent in causing a dangerous icy condition to exist on the dock. The plaintiff’s decedent slipped on the ice that had accumulated on the dock, and fell to his death. The defendant denied liability, and disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages.

On January 28, ________, the decedent was a crew member of a fishing vessel. The vessel made port at a marine facility owned and operated by the defendant. The crew realized after unloading its catch, that the boat required repair of a broken pipe, and the decedent, along with another crew member, remained on the boat to see to the necessary repairs. After the two fixed the broken pipe, they left the ship to get dinner. When the co-crew member returned later that evening, he found the gate locked, which was normally left open. The co-crew member navigated around to gain access to the facility by way of walking along a portion of the pier. He advised the plaintiff, who was not with him, to go the same way in order to get back on the boat. The plaintiff returned to the facility just after midnight, and followed the same route as suggested by his co-worker. He slipped on the pier on ice, snow, and frozen netting, and fell into the water and died. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant facility, alleging that it was negligent in locking the gate, when it was aware that the plaintiff and another worker had to access the facility, as well as creating a treacherous condition on the pier that resulted in the plaintiff slipping to his death.

The defendant denied the allegations, and maintained that it had given copies of the key to the lock for the fence to the vessel’s captain, whom, to the defendant’s understanding, gave a copy to the crew members, including the decedent. The defendant maintained that the decedent’s decision to traverse the pier, instead of using the key to unlock the gate, was the decedent and his employer’s negligence, and did not amount to negligence on the part of the defendant facility. The defendant further contended that the decedent was intoxicated at the time of the incident, since there was evidence that the two men had been drinking earlier in the evening.

The matter proceeded to trial. The plaintiff presented evidence regarding the widow and children’s financial losses resulting from the death of the decedent, since he was the sole wage earner in the family.

The trial lasted ten days. While the jury was deliberating, the defendant and the plaintiff settled the plaintiff’s case for the sum of $________.

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