Seaman injured climbing into bunk sues employer under Jones Act

David Yates Mar. 31, 2008, 10:38am

Ready for bed, seaman James Castle stepped on a milk crate and hoisted himself up to the top bunk. In the morning, his leg hurt. Castle claims his employer Five B's Inc. forced him to serve aboard an unseaworthy vessel and has filed a Jones Act suit.

Castle's suit was filed on March 27 in the Jefferson County District Court. The Jones Act is legislation enacted to help injured seamen.

According to his petition, on Jan. 28, 2008, Castle was a seaman serving aboard the TKL Barrois, a Five B's vessel.

Five B's is a towing and tugboat service based in New Orleans.

"On said date, Plaintiff stepped on a milk crate in order to get to his top bunk," the suit said. "When he awoke from sleeping, he got off the bunk in a lot of pain. Plaintiff's leg gave out on him when he was stepping off the boat. As a result, Plaintiff sustained injuries to his back, wrist, hip, leg, toe and body in general."

In his suit, Castle says Five B's negligently failed to maintain its "vessel in a seaworthy condition," which was the proximate cause of his injuries.

"Defendant breached its absolute duty to provide Plaintiff with maintenance and cure," the suit said.

"As a result of Defendant's unreasonable failure to provide maintenance and cure, Plaintiff is entitled to recovery for damages and expenses incurred, including but not limited to, damages for prolongation or aggravation of injuries; pain and suffering and additional expenses.

"Plaintiff would also show that he found it necessary to engage attorneys to represent him in the maintenance and cure action and he is entitled to reasonable attorney's fees for the collection of the maintenance and cure benefits due to him but for the arbitrary and capricious denial of said benefits."

Castle is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by attorney Todd Elias of the Gordon & Elias law firm.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B181-498

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