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EVANS v. UNITED ARAB SHIPPING CO.

May 1, 1992

WILLIAM W. EVANS, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED ARAB SHIPPING COMPANY (S.A.G.) and M/V AL WATTYAH, her engines, boilers, equipment, etc., Defendants.


BROTMAN, District Judge.

A bench trial in this Jones Act case was held on March 4-7, 1991. On July 30, 1991, this court ruled that defendant United Arab Shipping Company was negligent in failing to ensure that the accommodation ladder attached to the M/V Al Wattyah was reasonably safe for plaintiff pilot William W. Evans' egress from the ship on September 10, 1989. Evans v. United Arab Shipping Co., 767 F.Supp. 1284, 1292 (D.N.J. 1991). The court also held that defendant's negligence caused the plaintiff to fall and hit the launch. Id. The court ordered plaintiff to provide a detailed estimate of his damages due to the aggravation of his pre-existing and almost completely latent motor neuron disease by segregating damages due to plaintiff's preexisting illness, the defendant's negligence and any traumas suffered by plaintiff after the accident. *fn1" The court also required plaintiff to provide a detailed estimate of his damages for the orthopedic injuries that he sustained as a result of the September 10, 1989 incident. See November 22, 1991 Order.

 A hearing on the issue of damages was held on February 6, 1992. After considering the evidence presented and the arguments and submissions of counsel, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 I. FINDINGS OF FACT2

 1. A few days after the incident aboard the M/V Al Wattyah, Dr. Bell, plaintiff's family physician, examined plaintiff's complaints of pain in his nose, ribs and coccyx. X-rays revealed that plaintiff had suffered a fractured nose but there is no corroborating evidence that he suffered any injury to his ribs or coccyx.

 2. Plaintiff's medical expenses for his fractured nose and complaints due to the September 10, 1989 incident amount to $ 875.00. These expenses are for medical services performed on September 21, 1989 and September 22, 1989 at Riddle Memorial Hospital including an electromyogram, a cat scan and a reflex test.

 3. Plaintiff's injury caused him to miss 38 days of work after the incident.

 4. After returning to piloting on October 26, 1989, plaintiff took a medical leave of absence beginning November 10, 1989. He has not piloted a boat since November 10, 1989.

 5. Dr. Cook, plaintiff's medical expert in neurology and treating neurologist, noted on January 16, 1990 that before the September 10, 1989 incident, plaintiff said his legs were tired and his balance was off. Dr. Bhatt, plaintiff's other treating neurologist, testified that at plaintiff's examination on October 4, 1989, he had complained of difficulty with walking and balance "for the last few months."

 6. Since the September 10, 1989 incident, plaintiff has fallen several times fracturing his left arm in February, 1990 and fracturing his hip in May, 1990. In June, 1990 plaintiff was unable to pass the physical exam he needed to renew his state pilot's license, which expired on September 1, 1990. When Dr. Cook saw the plaintiff in September, 1990, he was struck by his increased facial weakness, spasticity, ataxia and generalized weakness.

 7. No doctor has been able to provide a definitive diagnosis of plaintiff's neurological condition. Dr. Cook described it as an unusual genus of motor neuron disease that resembles amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a chronic progressive disease of the nervous system affecting the nerve cells of the spinal cord and the brain stem. Defendant's medical expert, Dr. Duvosin, stated that plaintiff did not suffer from ALS but from olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA). OPCA is a chronic progressive degeneration of the nervous system affecting the cerebellum and the base of the ganglia, and sometimes affecting the cerebral cortex and the nerves of the spinal cord and brain stem.

 8. The last full year of plaintiff's employment was 1988 in which earnings, net of expenses, from his share as a first class pilot member of the Pilot's Association was $ 144,780.00. Plaintiff's lost earnings from September 11, 1989 until October 26, 1989 amount to $ 15,155.00.

 II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

 A seaman injured by the tortious conduct of his employer is entitled to an award of damages commensurate with the nature and extent of his injuries. Pfeifer v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 678 F.2d 453, 460 (3d ...


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