A recent Jones Act claim alleges a lose board made a vessel unseaworthy, entitling the plaintiff who brought the claim to recover punitive damages for gross negligence.

Carl Hite filed suit against Offshore Service Vessels on March 10 in Jefferson County District Court.

In his suit, Hite says on Aug. 1 he was a member of a crew aboard an OFV vessel traveling in navigable waters when he hurt his knee. The captain had ordered him to go to the back of the vessel and retrieve some equipment. While completing the task, Hite “stepped on a lose board, which slipped out from under him.”

The suit alleges Hite hurt his knee due to the vessel’s unseaworthiness and further accuses OFV of negligently failing to train its employees and maintain a safe work environment.

Hite also contends he is entitled to recover punitive damages because the actions of OFV were “grossly negligent,” alleging the defendant company knew of the dangerous condition but did nothing to rectify the matter and instead ordered employees to continue working.

In addition to punitive damages, Hite seeks damages for his alleged pain, mental anguish, impairment, disfigurement and medical expenses.

Attorney Kurt Arnold of the Houston firm Arnold & Itkin represents him.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E196-834

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