Unseaworthy vessel caused injury, seaman says

By Marilyn Tennissen | May 22, 2007

A Jefferson County seaman says an unseaworthy vessel led to his personal injury, and is suing the ship's owner.

King Ricardo filed a lawsuit against Horizon Offshore Contractors Inc., Horizon Offshore Inc. and Horizon Vessells Inc. on May 18 in Jefferson County District Court. The plaintiff's original petition says the claim is maintained under General Maritime Law of unseaworthiness and negligence, the Jones Act and common law negligence.

The petition states that on March 12, Ricardo was an employee on the vessel the M/V Canyon Horizon.

No details are given in the petition, but the suit says the plaintiff was injured in the course and scope of his employment and that "said injuries were as a result of Defendants' negligence.

"Plaintiff will show that the vessel was unseaworthy and that said unseaworthiness was a proximate and/or producing cause of Plaintiff's injuries," the petition states.

Ricardo sustained severe bodily injury, the suit says, and has incurred medical expenses in the past and likely in the future. In addition, the plaintiff has suffered and will likely suffer physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of wages and earning capacity, disfigurement and costs of physical rehabilitation.

"Defendants had, and continue to have, a non-delegable duty to provide the Plaintiff with the benefits of maintenance and cure," the suit says. "Plaintiff would show that he has not reached maximum medical improvement and that Defendants' duty continues."

The plaintiff claims that Horizon has denied payment, unreasonably denied payment or paid in an unsufficient amount. As a result, "plaintiff has suffered further injuries and damages, for which he now sues."

The suit says the plaintiff will show that the defendants' failure to provide benefits "was not only reasonable, but was arbitrary and capricious, or willful, callous and persistent." Therefore the plaintiff is entitled to recover attorney's fees in addition to other relief.

R. Todd Elias of Gordon & Elias LLP of Houston is representing the plaintiff.

Court assignment is pending.

Case No. E179-338

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