Ninth Court wipes $1.7M jury verdict for seaman’s slip-and-fall

By David Yates | Dec 18, 2014

Last March, a Jefferson County jury found Quinton Henderson – a seaman who filed two slip-and-fall suits within a year’s time – 30 percent negligent in causing his own injuries, but still awarded him more than $1.7 million in damages.

On Thursday the Ninth Court of Appeals wiped away the verdict, remanding the case for a new trial.

Court records show that Henderson filed suit against and Lake Shore Shipping on Nov. 6, 2009, in Jefferson County District Court.

Henderson alleges that on April 7, 2007, he was employed by Kinder-Morgan working aboard the Tina III, a vessel owned by the defendants, when he slipped and fell on the deck, injuring his back.

The case went to trial on March 4, 2013, in Judge Milton Shuffield’s 136th District Court.

Two weeks later, jurors found that Prosperity Management was 30 percent negligent in causing the incident; Irika Shipping was found to be 40 percent negligent and Henderson 30 percent negligent.

Jurors awarded Henderson $1,052,000 for his past and future lost earnings, $392,943 for his past and future medical expenses and $290,000 for his past and future mental anguish.

On appeal, Prosperity and Irika argued Judge Shuffield erred in denying their motion for directed verdict; the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the verdict, and the judge erred in omitting requested language in the charge and in the issues submitted to the jury.

Ninth Court justices found Judge Shuffield did err in omitting language from the charge, but declined to rule on verdict since they remanded the case for a new trial, court records show.

The omitted language pertained to the liability of Henderson’s employer.

This is not the first slip-and-fall suit filed by Quinton Henderson.

Quinton Henderson filed a Jones Act suit against Prosperity Management Services in Jefferson County District Court on Dec. 27, 2008, claiming he slipped and fell because the ship he served on lacked “adequate walking and working surfaces.”

That suit alleged that sometime in April 2007 Henderson was serving aboard the Tina III, a vessel owned by Prosperity, when he fell and injured his back.

The Law Office of Richard Schechter in Houston represents Henderson.

Attorney Kevin Walters represents Irika.

Trial case No. D185-296

Appeals case No. 09-13-00237-CV

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