Louisiana Record

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Court awards injured seaman more than $170,000 in negligence suit


By Charmaine Little | Jun 1, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – After suffering injuries from an alleged accident, a seaman was awarded nearly $200,000 on May 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana through litigation against his former employer, marine transport company Kirby Offshore Marine, LLC.

Andrew Lee Knight sued Kirby for negligence via the Jones Act and unseaworthiness via the general maritime law. The case went to trial in February 2019. Thanks to the evidence submitted at trial, the court awarded Knight with $171,809.

The court determined that both Knight and Kirby were equally negligent in the accident. Knight failed to be careful of his footing while repairing a stern line, and his boss ordered him to do it in the first place. As for Knight’s unseaworthiness claim, the court said the request for him to fix the stern line was not the direct reason for his injury. 

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo

The court calculated that Knight's total damages equalled $343,618 but because he was equally at fault, it awarded him half that amount.

While aboard the M/V SEA HAWK, Knight was ordered to replace a ripped stern line with a new one after the stern line was damaged from a previous storm. At the time Knight received his order on January 6, 2017, the winds were at 20 miles per hour. It was noted that conditions could have been safer to perform the task.

While Knight and a shipmate were fixing the line, Knight rolled his ankle by stepping on the damaged line. The suit claimed the ship's captain was negligent when he told Knight to fix the stern line in the poor conditions. 

Knight had to get surgery and was fired a year later, which he alleged was because of his disability. He was said to qualify for a re-hire. Knight said he can no longer go back to work as an offshore tankerman. 

The court determined Knight’s wage base at $99,008 with an expectancy to age 64. His past economic loss was determined to $103,037, while his future economic loss was set for $180,581, making his total economic loss $283,618, plus medical improvement of $103,037.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo ruled on the case.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

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