Court awards seaman more than $630,00 in damages for grinder accident aboard Marquette Transportation vessel

By Takesha Thomas | Jan 21, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently awarded a former seaman more than $630,000 in a lawsuit claiming he was injured while working aboard a vessel owned by Marquette Transportation.

In a Jan. 3 filing, U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo awarded Marcus Lomax $634,692.14 in damages for injuries while working as a seaman for Marquette Transportation. 

Lomax was injured in May 2015 while aboard the M/V Ross Salvaggio, which is owned by Marquette, when he was struck in the face by a grinder while buffing the underside of an overhead deck, court documents said. Lomax filed suit, citing the Jones Act, claiming negligence, unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure. 

According to court documents, "The Jones Act creates a cause of action for negligence when a seaman is injured in the course of his employment. An employer is liable under the Jones Act if the negligence of its employees played any part, even the slightest, in causing the injury or death for which damages are sought."

Milazzo awarding Lomax $138,835.50 for past loss earnings, $318,106.64 for loss of future earning capacity, $65,250 for future medical expenses and $112,500 for general damages. 

The court agreed with expert testimony for Lomax that Marquette failed to provide Lomax "with equipment reasonably fit for its intended purpose of grinding rust spots located above the head. Performing the task with a 7-inch Dewalt grinder was an unsafe method of work. The vessel’s unseaworthiness played a substantial part in bringing about Lomax's injuries."

Lomax sustained facial injuries while using a grinder on the underside of the fleet deck with his arms extended above his head. According to court papers, "the grinder hit a rust pocket, he lost control of the grinder, and it fell back and hit his face, knocking him to the ground." 

A marine ergonomic expert for Marquette testified that had Lomax been "wearing a face mask at the time of the accident, the grinder would have hit the mask and it would not have been knocked off. Lomax would not have sustained the mouth injuries at issue." 

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