A maritime construction worker has been awarded $3.3 million after a Louisiana federal court judge ruled that the worker’s head and spinal injuries were due to a captain’s negligence. The case was covered by the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Devin Barrios, a maritime construction worker, was transferring a portable generator from a boat to a barge when the accident occurred. Rather than secure the two vessels properly with mooring lines, the captain used engine power alone to hold the two vessels together during the transfer. The 22-year old was straddling the two vessels when they unexpectedly shifted. Barrios fell in the water, and the 150-pound generator tumbled down on top of him. He suffered a head injury with mild brain trauma that required 28 staples, and his spinal injuries required surgery. There is still the possibility of future surgery.
Jones Act and LHWCA grant unique and special rights to maritime workers. The LHWCA provides rights for land-based workers who perform work on, for, and around vessels. Employers are required to provide compensation irrespective of fault for the accidental injury or death arising out of a covered worker’s employment. Under the Jones Act, an employer is required to provide crewmembers with a reasonably safe place to work and reasonable care to prevent injuries. Negligence is the failure to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do, or not do, under similar circumstances. In this case, the reasonable and prudent option would have been to use mooring lines during the transfer of equipment. In the event of an injury, the employer is obligated to provide maintenance and cure, regardless of fault or negligence.
The Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific turned 100 years old last week and members celebrated the centenarian organization at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The organization, founded on November 20, 1918 in San Francisco, California, has quite a different look today, but the underlying directives set forth then are still with us today; to give workers a strong voice in numbers which in turn creates better working conditions.
When a meeting between deckhands and local fireman was called by Clyde W. Deal (1888-1978), deck workers and engine room workers were brought together under the same union umbrella for the first time in U.S. maritime labor history. Founded in 1918 in San Francisco, they were known simply as the Ferryboatmen’s Union of California. At the time, ferries in San Francisco Bay were owned by thriving railroad companies. Among those who organized were deckhands, watchmen, bargemen, oilers, cooks, waitresses, and firemen.
Prior to 1930, it was not uncommon for deckhands to be forced to work 12 to 18 hours per day. This was not only inhumane but created a dangerous work environment for everyone. Early bargaining successes included an 8-hour work day and a guarantee of a “dismissal wage,” or severance package for ferry workers who were displaced after the building of the San Francisco Bridge.
A diver was medevaced after an accident that occurred about nine miles northeast of False Pass, Alaska on Thursday, September 13th. The diver was working on a wreckage project, when a piece of underwater debris broke loose and pinned him to the ocean floor at a depth of approximately 65 feet. After several minutes, the diver was able to free himself and make his way to the surface; however, it was reported that he sustained injures to the left side of his body and was bleeding from his nose.
The dive master aboard the vessel MAKUSHIN BAY called watchstanders at the 17th District command center in Juneau at about 1:50pm to report the accident, and the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended the medevac. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew out of Air Station Kodiak was in Cold Bay on another transport, and was able to safely deliver their patient then travel to the injured diver. He was hoisted aboard, then transported to medical care in Cold Bay.
“The diver’s ability to free himself, coupled with our aircrew’s proximity to the accident today provided a favorable outcome,” said Lt. Stephen Nolan, command duty officer for the case. “The aircrew just so happened to be in Cold Bay on a separate, unrelated mission. As vast a place as Alaska is, being able to get to someone who needs help in time is always one of the biggest challenges our crews face. We were grateful to be able to do that today.”
The 2018 fishing season has seen many head and brain injuries. Being injured while working at sea can be disastrous to one’s career, but head and brain injuries can also be debilitating. Jones Act Law protects seamen, fishermen, tugboat workers, and crewmembers who have been injured while working at sea. The maritime doctrine of “maintenance and cure” is a no-fault maritime benefit. It means that the employer must pay for all reasonable medical expenses associated with a head or brain injury, including the following:
• Emergency Transportation
Two men departed at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 10th for what was to be a 20-minute flight over Katlian Bay and Olga Strait. When they did not return, a search was launched by the Coast Guard. An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was deployed as well as a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter. The Coast Guard located the wreckage shortly after 10:30 p.m. in the Katlian River near the bay.
It is with great sadness that we report neither of the two men survived. The pilot has been identified as 45-year-old Stonie Huffman of Sitka, Alaska. He had been the owner of Frontier Charters and Lodge for 15 years. The passenger was 66-year-old James Ronge of Turlock, California.
It has been 10 years since the tragic 2008 sinking of the 190-foot fishing vessel Alaska Ranger, which claimed the lives of five of the 47 crewmen aboard. During a 3-year investigation, conflicting findings regarding the cause of the accident were reported. The U.S. Coast Guard originally believed the sinking was caused by an aging hull, while the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found the sinking was caused by the loss of a rudder, which would have left an opening where water could enter the vessel.
One of the surviving crewmembers, Rodney Lundy, the assistant engineer, has recently come forward with additional reasons for the sinking of the Alaska Ranger.
Rodney Lundy remembers preparing the vessel for departure, and having an argument with fishmaster Satoshi Konno, about netting that was stacked around two air vents in the engine room. Lundy wanted the area cleared so the vents could be sealed in the event of flooding. But Konno and other crewmembers refused to move or clear the area.
The U.S. Coast Guard recently received an alarming call; a 44-year-old male appeared to be suffering a stroke while working on the fishing vessel GOLDEN ALASKA, which was located approximately 60 miles northeast of Cold Bay. Time is of the essence when treating a stroke, but what happens when the victim is out at sea? The U.S. Coast Guard forward deployed assets are crucial for this type of incident, as they are saving precious time getting crewmembers to proper medical services.
However, it is up to crewmembers to recognize stroke symptoms, report them, and get help as quickly as possible. March 12th marks the beginning of National Brain Awareness week, and this case reminds us just how important it is to know the signs of a stroke and what to do if you or a crewmate suffer the same fate. According to The American Stroke Association, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in our nation, and the leading cause of disability. Someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds (about 800,000 strokes happen per year).
What is a stroke?
The Jones Act Waiver that we reported on last week, has been extended through September 22, 2017 at the recommendation of the Departments of Defense and Energy. The waiver was initially signed on September 8, 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security.
Severe disruptions in the fuel supply system resulted from the mass evacuation of millions of Floridians as they left the areas where hurricanes were predicted to hit. To facilitate movement, maintain services, and rebuild after these devastating storms, refined petroleum products including jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline may be shipped from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico under foreign flagged ships until the September 22nd deadline.
Crowley Maritime, a Jacksonville based company, has dispatched 18 Jones Act vessels to deliver fuel to Florida ports in the next week. In addition to Tampa, fuel will be discharged in Port Canaveral and Ft. Lauderdale. The vessels will bring approximately 2.75 million barrels of gasoline and 500,000 barrels of diesel in the next 8 days.
Two U.S. government agencies have waived restrictions in an effort to rebuild infrastructure and respond to citizen needs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The Environmental Protection Agency has extended a 38-state fuel emissions waiver for storm related supply distributions across the U.S. The emissions waiver will be in effect until September 15th, and eliminates the need for states to meet strict emission requirements for low-volatility gasoline. These waivers will allow fuel to make it to market more quickly and reduce supply shortfalls caused by the storms.
In a similar sanction, the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke approved a waiver of the Jones Act. The waiver will ensure that all options for the distribution of fuel are available to states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“This is a precautionary measure to ensure we have enough fuel to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of this potentially devastating storm,” said Acting Secretary Duke.