Seaman sues employer over injuries to his back

Michelle Massey Jun. 14, 2010, 4:10am


A Washington man has filed a lawsuit against his Louisiana employer after he was allegedly injured while picking up a massive oil drum.

Arguing his employer did not provide adequate assistance, Matthew Stark filed suit against Trico Marine Operators June 4 in federal court in New Orleans.

Stark says he was working onboard the M/V Big Blue River when he was ordered to move a 55-gallon oil drum across the deck and onto a dock. Stark says the drum was filled with used oil and engine parts and weighed more than 500 pounds. Stark says he asked for help moving the heavy drum but says none was provided.

According to court records, Stark slid the drum approximately 30 feet before attempting to lift it over the 6 - 8 inch rail. Stark says he wrapped his arms around the barrel, bent his knees to lift and had an immediate and severe pain in his lower back.

Six days prior to this incident, on June 7, 2007, Stark says he suffered a back injury while organizing the boat's paint locker. Stark says the task required him to bend awkwardly over the edge of a box and reach into several feet.

Stark accuses Trico Marine of causing his injuries through negligence by failing to provide him a safe place to work, failing to provide adequate assistance to safely perform his job and failing to provide Stark with adequate tools and/or equipment.

Stark sas that the M/V Big Blue River was unseaworthy because of the layout of the paint locker and because the vessel lacked adequate tools and manpower to enable him to successfully perform his job. As a result of that unseaworthy condition, Stark says, he was injured.

Stark is seeking damages for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, lost earnings, loss of found damages, interest, attorney's fees and court costs.

Houston attorney Steve Gordon of Gordon, Elias & Seely is representing Stark.

U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv01650

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