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Fishing Company Ordered To Designate Witness To Testify Regarding Comparative Fault Defense

In many cases involving injured fishermen, during litigation to obtain compensation for the crewman under the Jones Act, the fishing company attempts to block and obstruct the crewman from getting information necessary to prepare his case for trial.

A Washington State Superior Court Judge in King County has recently ordered an Alaska fishing company to designate a witness to testify regarding their comparative fault defense. The fishing company had refused to designate a witness for the corporation, claiming the evidence on which they based their comparative fault argument was attorney work product. In essence what the fishing company was attempting to do was hide behind the corporate structure – refusing to articulate a position on comparative fault in discovery, only to have its lawyer make the argument at trial. In ordering the company to produce the witness, the Court rejected the fishing company’s argument, noting that it would defeat the discovery process. Requiring a witness to be produced under Rule 30(b)(6) is not necessarily objectionable merely because the identified subjects about which the witness is to testify involve an opinion or contention that relates to fact or application of law to fact. Beard Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC represented the injured crewman in this case, Masterson v. Unimak Vessel, LLC, Superior Court for King County Cause No. 09-2-30167-SEA. This case is set for jury trial in January, 2011.

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