Untrained Crewmembers Themselves Can Render a Vessel Unseaworthy

April 23, 2014

–Unseaworthy Seaman Is Awarded More Than a Million Dollars–

The Second Circuit has ruled that a vessel can become unseaworthy simply because some crewmembers are not trained to handle a specific task, such as handing the anchor while the vessel is rolling.

The Appeals Court affirmed not only the finding of negligence for allowing a tug to severely roll because it was navigating abeam the sea, instead of straight into it, while the men were trying to anchor, but the Court also found that the vessel became unseaworthy when the inexperienced crewmembers tried to deal with the difficult circumstances. One of them was the plaintiff who was injured when a line became taut and struck him. He had never handled an anchor on a vessel like this tug, which had an open stern without bulkheads to hold onto for leverage or stability.

When a suit was filed by one of the seamen whose inexperience and lack of training had rendered the vessel unseaworthy, he was awarded $500,000 in past and $700,000 in future pain and suffering.

After defendants filed their principal brief, the injured seaman passed away. The defendants in their reply brief asked the Appeals Court to remand to the District Court for reconsideration of the effect of his death on future lost wages and future pain and suffering. The Appeals Court refused, pointing out that there was no authority for remanding a case for recalculation of damages after a final judgment had been entered. Madeline L. Marasa, as Personal Representative of Frederick J. Harrington, Jr. v. Atlantic Sandy Co., Inc. et al., No. 13, 272-cv (2d Cir., Jan. 21, 2014).