A sea captain is entitled to more than $ 11 million in future lost revenue after he was injured and tripped over a staircase in a hatch.
In Rivera v. Kirby Offshore Marine LLC, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans unanimously affirmed a district court ruling that the captain was not employed for work compensation purposes and that the company was therefore liable for his damages. .
Capt. Jay Rivera worked as a state-commissioned branch pilot who helped ships navigate the Port Corpus Christi Ship Channel and LaQuinta Channel in Texas and was a member of a non-incorporated pilot association.
In August 2016, he was sent out to pilot a 120-foot vessel owned and operated by Kirby Offshore Marine. After boarding the ship, he was escorted to the wheelhouse when he entered a door that was not well lit, rolled his ankle and fell, according to court documents. He got ice and ibuprofen, steered the boat to his destination and sought medical attention afterwards.
Capt. Rivera was diagnosed with a metatarsal fracture of the left foot. He was later diagnosed with a complex regional pain syndrome that made him medically unfit for his naval certification, and his State Port Commission was recalled.
Capt. Rivera sued Kirby for negligence and ship insecurity. The district court ruled that he was not employed by Kirby and that his injuries could not be compensated under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA ). It also found that the boat was immortal and that Captain Rivera was entitled to past and future harbor pilot salaries. Relying on calculations by an expert, the court awarded him $ 1
On appeal, Kirby claimed that Captain Rivera was an employee of the LHWCA and was contributory negligent, but the Board of Appeal did not agree.
The court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that Captain Rivera was not "employed by anyone" and therefore not covered by the LHWCA.
The court also upheld the district court's finding that the boat was immoral and found that Captain Rivera adequately demonstrated that his injuries were caused by his fall over an unmarked hatch door, noting that other courts have argued that triggering hazards can make a ship immortal.
Kirby claimed that Captain Rivera's decision to wear sunglasses made him negligently negligent in his case, but the Board of Appeal again dismissed this argument and agreed with the district court's decision that sunglasses on a sunny day were not unreasonably sonable and that Kirby failed to show that Captain Rivera would have seen the door and avoided injury if he had not worn sunglasses.