Seaman sues employer over injuries on board ship docked in Galveston

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 16, 2009, 6:30am

GALVESTON � A seaman from Sugar Land is suing two maritime companies for multiple injuries he allegedly sustained while his ship was docked in Galveston three months ago.

In a lawsuit filed in Galveston County District Court on Apr. 14, Ruben Wesley Knowles Jr. accuses his employer, Reservoir Exploration Technology Inc. and GulfMark Americas Inc. of failing to make sure the M/V Bourbon was seaworthy and free of any potential danger.

Knowles was working aboard the Bourbon, which was anchored in the Port of Galveston, on Jan. 11 when he had an undisclosed accident.

The plaintiff says the alleged incident inflicted severe and disabling pain to his back, right knee, shoulder, and other parts of his body.

"As a result of said occurrence, the plaintiff sustained severe injuries to his body, which resulted in physical pain, mental anguish, and other medical problems," the original petition states.

Knowles subsequently became unemployed. His losses of wages and earning capacity prevented him from making payments for the medical attention he sought, according to court papers.

The suit says Reservoir Exploration Technology failed to cover said medical expenses.

"The plaintiff further alleges that it was and still is, the duty of said defendant, to furnish him with maintenance and cure and loss of wages," it states. "The defendant has unreasonably, arbitrarily, willfully, and capriciously refused to provide him with medical cure."

GulfMark Americas was named a defendant in the suit because of its alleged ownership of the Bourbon.

With the help of Houston attorney Matthew D. Shaffer, Knowles seeks compensatory damages and attorney's fees as well as a jury trial.

Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV0500

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