Texas seaman sues Virginia fishing company for injury in New York

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Aug. 6, 2008, 1:48pm

GALVESTON – A Corpus Christi seaman seeks $2.5 million in damages from a Newport News, Va.-based maritime company for multiple injuries he allegedly sustained while on a commercial fishing expedition in New York, court documents say.

Victor Sanchez filed suit against the M/V Suzee Q, Chesapeake Bay Packing LLC and Virginia resident Sue G. Martin, the presumed owner of the Suzee Q, in Galveston County District Court on July 25.

"Plaintiff was injured while performing his duties as a Jones Act seaman aboard one such vessel while completing a job in inland water of New York," the lawsuit says.

It accuses the defendants of general maritime negligence, unseaworthiness, and failure to pay maintenance and cure.

The suit states Sanchez worked as a deckhand on the Suzee Q at the time of the incident, which reportedly occurred on or around April 20. The crew was fishing for scallops with Sanchez responsible for cleaning the catch.

"Plaintiff was at the rear of the vessel cleaning scallops," the suit states.

Sanchez alleges the Suzee Q "was poorly maintained and was constantly left with unsafe working conditions."

"For instance, the deck was wet, slippery, and unclean…the seas were rough at the time of the incident," the original petition states.

Sanchez's superiors reportedly rushed him to finish his duties; the seaman slipped in the process.

"Plaintiff slipped and injured his knee, back, and other parts of his body," court papers say. "He immediately reported his injuries to his superiors."

He claims the ship's top brass assured Sanchez they would pay for his medical attention, but he was fired a short time later.

"Defendants even terminated plaintiff's employment while known to him that he was in fact injured and was injured while performing his duties as a seaman," court papers say.

As a result of the accident, according to the lawsuit, Sanchez "sustained severe bodily injuries" in addition to physical pain and impairment, mental anguish, loss of earnings, and medical expenses.

Sanchez, who is represented by Houston attorney Chad Pinkerton, has filed a request for a jury trial.

Judge David Garner of the 10th District Court is presiding over the case.

Case No. 08CV0799

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