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DEFENDANT’S Jones Act – Alleged failure of cruise line to provide adequate medical care – Claimed unnecessary lumbar surgery performed.

Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff was an employee of the defendant cruise line when he claimed lumbar injury as a result of pulling a luggage cart with a broken wheel. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to provide adequate medical care (maintenance and cure) resulting in the plaintiff undergoing unnecessary surgery. The plaintiff also alleged medical malpractice against the defendant cruise line, in that the doctors tendered by the defendant allegedly performed unnecessary lumbar surgery. The defendant argued that it fulfilled its obligations to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff was a 40-year-old male when he claimed he suffered a lumbar injury as a result of pulling a defective luggage cart on board one of the defendant’s cruise ships. The plaintiff underwent a lumbar discectomy and fusion surgery to treat the lumbar injury. The plaintiff’s medical expert testified that the lumbar surgery performed on the plaintiff’s back was excessive and was not supported by his diagnostic films.

The defendant’s medical expert testified that the plaintiff had undergone conservative treatment for some one and a-half years without success. This expert opined that the plaintiff’s continuing lumbar radiculopathy and neurological complaints warranted the lumbar fusion which was performed.

Prior the start of trial, the defendant obtained summary judgment on the plaintiff’s additional Jones Act claims of negligence and un-seaworthiness.After a four day trial, the jury found for the defendant on all remaining counts. The defendant cruise line was found not to have been vicariously liable for any negligence of the shoreside physicians and to have fulfilled its maintenance and cure obligations. The plaintiff’s motion for new trial was denied.

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