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Ferry Workers Receive $1.1M for Toxic Voyage

Three Washington State Ferry workers were awarded a combined verdict of $1.1M for lung damage resulting from cleaning products and lack of instructions from the Washington State Ferries. The three workers, Tammy Brazeau, Alex Johnson and Natette Lewis, were cleaning a restroom with a substance called Hi ‘N Dry as well as bleach without the supervision or direction of a superior. The two substances came into contact, causing an eruption of white chlorine gas that caused respiratory irritation in the three workers. Brazeau, Johnson, and Lewis were all exposed to the gas, resulting in lung damage and respiratory conditions such as dyspnea, asthma, chronic rhinitis, rhinorrhea, pneumonia, allergies and acute bronchitis. Brazeau further claimed to suffer from depression and nightmares because of her injuries.
The three filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington, claiming that the vessel was unseaworthy and the State was negligent by failing to provide adequate instruction or direction in using the chemicals. In a response, the State claimed all safety requirements had been met and the workers were properly warned about the cleaning chemicals. According to the State, the bleach label indicated that it should not be mixed with other chemicals and that the State had conducted chemical hazard training for all employees. The court, however, sided with the plaintiffs, rendering separate judgments for each of the workers. The judgments totaled over $1.1M.
The law office of Beard Stacey Trueb & Jacobsen, LLP has successfully held employers accountable in numerous Jones Act cases, including cases involving the Washington State Ferries. The maritime lawyers at BSTJ, LLP represent injured mariners throughout the nation in claims involving the Jones Act and General Maritime Law. For any questions regarding maritime law or injuries sustained while working aboard a vessel, contact us at 206.282.3100 or visit our website at www.atsealawyer.com.