Seaman sues after boat capsizes

David Yates Oct. 1, 2007, 10:00am

Arnold & Itkin

Seaman Sylvester Maye was thrown into the water and injured when the vessel he was serving on, the M/V Galveston Bay, capsized.

Maye claims his employer, Omega Protein Inc., "acted with flagrant and malicious disregard of (his) health and safety." Under the Jones Act, he is suing Omega for negligently failing to maintain its vessel and properly train its employees.

He filed his personal injury lawsuit with the Jefferson County District Court on Sept. 28.

According to the company's Web site, Omega Protein is the nation's largest producer of Omega-3 fish oil, protein rich fish meal and fish solubles. "We market a variety of products derived from menhaden, an inedible fish found in abundant."

According to the plaintiff's original petition, on Sept. 5, 2007, Maye was aboard the M/V Galveston Bay, while the vessel was deployed on navigable waters alongside Jefferson County.

"Plaintiff sustained serious injuries when the M/T Galveston Bay capsized throwing Plaintiff into the water," the suit said. "Plaintiff was injured before, during and after being forced into the water where he attempted to avoid drowning by evading the dangers of the boat and the net while pulling himself and another crew member to safety."

The suit lists the following acts of negligence:

failure to properly supervise its crew;

failure to properly train its employees;

failure to provide adequate safety equipment;

failure to provide adequate medical treatment;

operating the vessel in an improper and unsafe manner;

failure to maintain the vessel;

failure to maintain, inspect, and/or repair the vessel's equipment;

vicariously liable for its employees' negligence and gross negligence;

And other acts deemed negligent and grossly negligent.

"At all relevant times, the M/V Galveston Bay was unseaworthy," the suit said. "As a result of said occurrence, Plaintiff sustained severe injuries to his body, which resulted in physical pain, mental anguish, and other medical problems."

In his suit, Maye says he is entitled to punitive damages "because the aforementioned actions of Defendant were grossly negligent. Defendant acted with flagrant and malicious disregard of Plaintiff's health and safety."

"Defendant was subjectively aware of the extreme risk posed by the conditions which caused the vessel to capsize, but did nothing to rectify them," the suit said. "Instead, Defendant had Plaintiff and other crew members continue working despite the dangerous conditions that were posed to them. Defendant did so knowing that the conditions posed dangerous and grave safety concerns.

Maye is also suing for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, medical expenses and physical impairment.

He is demanding a trail by jury and is represented by attorney Jason Itkin of the Arnold & Itkin law firm.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. E180-421

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