Steersman blames Bolivar Barge for leg injury aboard ship

By Travis Zuellig | Feb 9, 2016

GALVESTON — A steersman is suing his former employer, alleging negligence over injuries he says he sustained while on a vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.

Joel D. Taflinger filed a lawsuit Feb. 4 in Galveston County District Court against Bolivar Barge Cleaning Service LLC and The Tug Sonny Gates LLC, alleging negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure.

According to the complaint, on Dec. 3, Taflinger was a Jones Act seaman employed by Bolivar and employed in service of the M/V Sonny Gates, a towing vessel. The suit says Taflinger was on the head deck and was in the process of taking the barge out of the fleet of another vessel’s tow. He was untying a four-part headline and had taken the first wrap off, the suit states.

While still holding the line, the complaint says, the captain of the M/V Sonny Gates put the vessal in reverse without warning. The line swung around and caught Taflinger’s right leg and it severed part of his right ankle, the suit states.

The plaintiff alleges he sustained serious injuries to his right leg, right knee, right foot and ankle as a result of the accident.

Taflinger seeks a jury trial, judgment against the defendants in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of the court, further relief and court costs. He is represented by attorney Matthew D. Shaffer of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris LLP in Houston.

Galveston County District Court Case number 6:16-cv-0152

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