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Dixie County

The plaintiff was a professional crab fisherman who claimed that he sustained a herniated lumbar disc after he fell aboard his boat. The plaintiff claimed that the fall was caused when his boat struck a dredge pipeline that defendant turned loose into a navigable channel. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to secure the dredge pipe and in failing to mark the dredge pipe. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent, was operating his boat at an excessive speed and failed to keep a proper lookout for floating objects.

The plaintiff was a man in his 50s at the time of the accident. He testified that he had been a crabber his entire adult life, and started that line of work as a teenager. The plaintiff contended that he was running his boat at Horseshoe Beach at a speed of 10 to 12 mph when a sudden jarring of the vessel caused him to fall. The plaintiff’s boat struck a floating dredge pipe that had been disconnected from the defendant’s dredging equipment and permitted to drift partially submerged in a navigable channel. Evidence showed that the defendant’s dredge had been disconnected and was in the process of being replaced with another dredge.

The plaintiff claimed that the ________ foot long, high density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) was unmarked and was floating eight to ten inches below the surface of the water where it could not be seen. The plaintiff’s marine safety expert testified that the defendant failed to follow industry standards in securing the dredging equipment together and making sure that pieces did not come loose and create a danger for boat traffic.

The plaintiff’s physician testified that the plaintiff sustained a lumbar disc herniation as a result of the accident. The plaintiff is not a surgical candidate because of his age and excessive weight, according to his doctor. The plaintiff contended that he is limited in his physical activities and is unable to return to his prior employment as a crabber. The plaintiff claimed $________ in total economic damages.

The defendant admitted that it owned the pipe at issue. However, the defense argued that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent for failing to observe and avoid the pipe. The defense also denied that the plaintiff sustained a herniated lumbar disc as a result of the fall. The defendant contended that the plaintiff suffered from preexisting degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.

The jury found the defendant ________% negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages. The award included $________ in past medical expenses, $________ in past loss of earnings, $________ in future medical expenses, $________ in future loss of earnings, $________ in past pain and suffering and $________ in future pain and suffering. The case is currently on appeal.

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