Overworked Mate Sets Legal Precedent

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

A former Maersk chief officer was awarded substantial damages by a Florida court after suffering heart damage as a result of working excessive hours

A recent court ruling in Florida leaves shipowners facing the threat of legal action from seafarers who feel that their working conditions at sea have contributed to poor health, both in the US and other jurisdictions, lawyers have confirmed, reports ‘Intermanager’.

William Skye, a former chief officer with Maersk, was awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars after he claimed that he had suffered heart damage as a result of working 16 hours a day at sea, forcing him to take early retirement at the age of 54.

“This is an important case, because it paves the way for similar-situated crew members who are injured by working too many hours and too many duties,” said Jason Magulies of Lipcon Margulies Alsina & Winkleman, who acted for Mr Skye.

Mr Skye’s negligence case was brought in May under the US Jones Act, which protects seafarers’ rights even when they work on foreign-flagged ships. The case resulted in a substantial award to the plaintiff.

His lawyers argued that he typically snatched less than six hours sleep a day because he had to undertake two four-hour watches, followed by 28 additional duties associated with his role on board.