Court dismisses negligence suit filed by longshoreman injured while unloading cargo

By Takesha Thomas | May 14, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently dismissed a longshoreman's negligence suit claiming he was injured by mooring cables while unloading cargo on a barge. 

In the May 2 ruling, U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk granted the motion for summary judgment in the claim filed by Derrick Overton against M/V Tomorrow, Hawk Marine Corporation, Marine Ace Co. and Japan Ship Owners’ Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association. 

Overton claimed in his lawsuit that he was injured in June 2017 after a cable on the deck of the Tomorrow broke, striking his ankle, knocking him down and resulting in a fracture of both his ankles. The incident occurred after another ship, M/V Altro Donna, pushed a barge upriver causing the cable on Tomorrow's deck to break. Overton, a stevedore who worked for Ports America, contends that the Tomorrow's deck had dangerous conditions, court filings said. 

Attorneys for the Tomorrow argued that the lines and cables running on the deck and securing the barge did not constitute a dangerous condition, court filings said. Additionally, the Tomorrow contended there was no evidence found in Overton's argument that the Tomorrow crew "had actual knowledge of an alleged unreasonable dangerous condition and no evidence that the Tomorrow crew had actual knowledge that Ports America was acting in an obviously improvident manner by exposing Overton to an alleged hazard," the filings said.

Attorneys for Overton argued that the crew of the Tomorrow failed to inspect the deck and moorings. Additionally, since the crew for the Tomorrow was not aware of the moorings as they allege, then they acted "below the standard of care required of the vessel in its duty to intervene," court filings said. 

Africk, in granting summary judgment, said, "Overton has not raised a genuine issue of material fact with respect to the Tomorrow’s alleged duty to intervene under these circumstances. Overton has also not set forth any evidence demonstrating a genuine issue of material fact as to the Tomorrow’s duty to intervene."

The ruling also said Overton failed to provide enough evidence that the Tomorrow and its crew, "had a duty to inspect the moorings installed by the stevedore or to supervise the stevedore or the tug’s operations. ...In fact, the law is clear that once stevedoring operations have begun, the owner has no duty to supervise or inspect the work and must only take care to prevent unreasonable hazards." 

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