Injured seaman seeks $1 million from tugboat owner

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 22, 2007, 11:00am

A merchant sailor injured on board a tugboat has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the ship's owner.

Gene Ricks, an Orange County resident, filed the complaint on March 16 naming Moran Towing of Texas Inc. of Port Arthur as defendant.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Ricks was an able-bodied seaman on board the M.V. Greg Turecamo, a 2900 H.P. twin-screw tugboat owned and operated by Moran. At around 9:45 a.m. on April 3, 2005, the Greg Turecamo was summoned to assist a vessel that had become entangled with a navigational buoy about 5 miles from the Sabine Jetties. The two vessels were connected by a line while divers inspected the propellers of the distressed ship.

The regular captain of the Turecamo was in his bunk and the tugboat was being operated by a licensed quarter master-mate from one of Moran's other vessels, the petition states.

Ricks was attempting to secure a line to a bit on the Turecamo when the line popped, catching Ricks' hand and arm. The plaintiff sustained injuries to his left hand and shoulder including torn ligaments and a torn rotator cuff. Both injuries have required orthopedic surgery.

The suit states that Ricks suffered pain and mental anguish and is likely to continue to suffer for the rest of his life. In addition, his injuries have impaired his ability to continue to earn the $100 per day he made as a seaman.

Ricks claims that Moran was negligent by failing to provide a safe and seaworthy ship on which to work, since at the time of the incident the person at the helm was unfamiliar with the vessel.

Under the Jones Act, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant is personally liable and caused him to suffer damages in the amount of $1 million.

Gregory W. Allen of Houston is representing the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd of the Jefferson County 172nd District Court.

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