Morales vs. King Ocean Service de Venezuela, S.A.
SEAMAN'S ACTION: Plaintiff was a seaman on the vessel Rio Pacquare when he fell while descending a metal vertical ladder. Plaintiff claimed that the ladder was oily and wet. Also plaintiff claimed that the ladder was not installed to industry standards since it did not have seven inches clearance from the wall where it was attached. Defendant denied these claims. Plaintiff, 44, male, from Costa Rica claimed that he suffered a lower back herniated disc in the fall along with neck, hand and head injuries. DR. GARY LUSTGARTEN, Neurosurgeon, testified for plaintiff that plaintiff suffered a herniated disc from the accident for which he needed surgery. He gave plaintiff a 10% disability. DR. STEVEN TICKTIN, Orthopedist, testified for plaintiff that he saw plaintiff about two months after the accident and that he had lower back complaints. DR. LLOYD ORIBER, Orthopedist, testified for plaintiff that when he saw him he needed a cast for an injury to his tendon in his hand, which would also need therapy. DR. JORGE HERRERA, Neuropsychologist, testified for plaintiff that plaintiff suffered a head injury in the accident which caused headaches. DR. ROWLAND PRITCHARD, Orthopedist, testified for defendant, that plaintiff did not complain about an injury to his back the entire time that he treated him. He gave plaintiff a disability rating of 5-6% for a neck injury. DR. JOSEPH KALBAC, Orthopedist testified for defendant that plaintiff did not have a herniated disc requiring surgery when he saw the plaintiff. DR. LESSOR, Neuropsycholoqist, testified for defendant that plaintiff did not have a head injury and that his test results indicated that he was malingering. Plaintiff had about $35,000.00 in unpaid medical bills. Defendant took the position that the surgery was unnecessary. CAPTAIN ROBERT F. BARBER, U.S. Coast Guard retired, testified for the plaintiff that he was not given a safe place to work and the vessel was unfit. JAMES BEST, Engineer, testified that the ladder was not installed correctly. Defendant was found to have willfully and arbitrarily failed to pay plaintiff's maintenance and cure and awarded $0 punitive damages. Plaintiff will be entitled to an award of attorneys fees based on the verdict with the amount to be determined by the Court.
Verdict for Plaintiff: Negligence and unseaworthiness, $120,000.00 for which plaintiff was found to be 25% comparatively negligent. Maintenance and cure, $55,000.00.