Seamen want $3.4 million after vessel hits barge during BP oil spill cleanup

By Michelle Massey | Nov 1, 2010

Two seamen are suing their employer for $3.4 million after their vessel rammed into a barge.

Jermaine Steward and Gary Smith filed suit against Grand Isle Shipyard Inc. and Plaisance Dragline and Dredging Co. on Oct. 21 in federal court in New Orleans.

The incident occurred on Aug. 7 as Smith was operating the M/V Lil Jeff, a vessel being used to transport seamen involved in the BP oil spill clean-up.

According to the lawsuit, the vessel's throttle broke, causing the vessel to accelerate and slam into an adjacent barge. Plaintiff Stewart was a passenger on the vessel at the time of the collision.

The defendants are accused of negligence in failing to provide a safe place to work and with a seaworthy vessel. Steward states the accident caused him to sprain his back and left shoulder. Smith states he is now suffering from headaches and a back injury.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $3.4 million in damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional stress and strain, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, maintenance and cure, attorney's fees and interest.

Steward and Smith are represented by New Orleans attorney Darleen M. Jacobs. Jury trial is recommended.

U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10-cv-04016

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