Kyle Barnett Mar. 16, 2015, 2:14pm


GRETNA – A deckhand is pursuing a Jones Act claim against his former employer after he allegedly suffered heat stroke in the course and scope of his work and was fired for admitting he had suffered the illness during the scope of his work.

Brandon A. Church filed suit against Beverly Industries LLC in the 24th Judicial District Court on Jan. 20.

Church alleges that he was working as a deckhand and member of the crew of the tugboat M/V Albert II and a member of the crew of the dredge Bella Rose, both vessels of which were owned by Beverly Industries. The plaintiff contends that on Sept. 10, 2014 he was in the course and scope of his employment for the defendant putting together piping aboard a tugboat and on several occasions requested a water break, which was denied by the tugboat captain. Church asserts that he eventually fainted and collapsed on the vessel’s deck whereupon other crew members poured water on him to revive him.

The plaintiff claims that after the incident he was not provided medical treatment and in fact was ordered to continue work and move 5 gallon drums until late in the evening. Church alleges he continued to work, despite suffering from illness, due to fear he would lose his job. The plaintiff contends that after the incident he suffered from headaches that day and throughout the night before going to the emergency room at Lakeview Regional Medical Center on Sept. 10, 2014, but left due to an extremely long wait threatened to make him late for work.

Church asserts he was still suffering from headaches and heatstroke symptoms when he returned to work on Sept. 11, 2014 and was told if he did not work he would be fired. Finally, on Sept. 12, 2014 the plaintiff claims he reported the incident to his supervisor and was fired after which he sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with heat stroke and dehydration that was treated via IV fluids and pain relievers.

The defendant is accused of gross negligence, reckless disregard for the plaintiff’s safety, failing to provide a safe place to work, providing an unseaworthy vessel, failing to provide proper supervision, failing to secure medical treatment and wrongful discharge.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, mental anguish, pain, disability, medical expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.

Church is represented by Franklin G. Shaw of Covington-based Leger & Shaw.

The case has been assigned to Division D Judge Scott U. Schlegel.

Case no. 746-019.

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