Seaman blames rental company for injuries

Michelle Massey Jun. 11, 2010, 4:29am

A crew member of the M/V Simon Jr. has filed suit against the boat's owner, claiming the company put him to work on a boat that wasn't fit to be at sea.

Seaman Kenneth H. White, III filed suit against Abe's Boat Rental May 25 in federal court in New Orleans.

According to the lawsuit, White was only one of three individuals working aboard the M/V Simon Jr. on Jan. 8, when the alleged incident happened. White says wave heights were 10-12 feet with wind at 20-30 knots and gusting that day. He says the vessel became unsteady in the rough sea. White claims he was almost washed overboard by a high wave but was able to grab the rail before falling into the water. The seaman says he injured his upper body, leg, neck and back during the incident.

White says Abe's Boat Rental was negligent in ordering the seaman to work "in dangerous, heavy, rough, high seas, without sufficient number of competent crew members."

White argues his employer and supervisors should have known it was unsafe for any work to be done but ordered him to transfer water to a platform. He says transferring water could have waited for calmer seas and that such an activity by a lone seaman creates dangerous working conditions.

"Defendant failed to provide a seaworthy vessel that was reasonably fit to navigate in rough weather without endangering the crew or vessel," the lawsuit reads.

White says his injuries have resulted in pain and suffering and mental anguish, lost past earnings and diminishment, physical impairment, disfigurement and medical expenses.

White is seeking more than $1 million in actual damages, plus his maintenance and cure, punitive damages, interest, attorney's fees and costs.

New Orleans attorney Jack W. Harang and Houston attorneys James A. Stegall, III and Kelly W. Kelly of Law Offices of Newton B.
Schwartz, Sr. are representing White.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv01558

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