United States District Court, D. New Jersey
A. WALL, JR. FRANCESCA ANN IACOVANGELO MCCANN & WALL,
LLC, JOHN F. KENNEDY BLVD SUITE, JONATHAN E. GILZEAN, ESQ.
LATTI & ANDERSON LLP., On behalf of Plaintiff.
MCEWING REEVES MCEWING LLP, TOWNBANK ROAD CAPE MAY, MARY
ELISA REEVES REEVES MCEWING LLP, On behalf of Defendants.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
matter concerns claims by a seaman for injuries he sustained
on a fishing boat. Defendants have moved to dismiss
Plaintiff's claims, or in the alternative Defendants have
moved for summary judgment in their favor, based on a
purported agreement between the parties where Plaintiff
released all of his claims against Defendants arising out of
his work injury. For the reasons expressed below,
Defendants' motion will be denied.
complaint, Plaintiff, Wayne Greene, claims he was working on
the fishing boat F/V PONTOS when he was injured. Based on his
injury, Plaintiff has asserted claims against his employers,
FV PONTOS, LLC and Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc.,
maritime negligence, unseaworthiness, and failure to provide
proper maintenance and cure. Plaintiff's complaint
contains no other details about his injury or Defendants'
actions relative to his injury.
have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims, or seek summary
judgment on Plaintiff's claims, based on a release that
Defendants contend Plaintiff signed when he was cleared to
return to work by his doctor. The parties' submissions in
support of and in opposition to Defendants' motion
provide more information on the circumstances of
Plaintiff's injury and the subsequent events relating to
the purported release.
relates that he has been a commercial fisherman for 31 years
and has a 10th grade education. On September 22, 2014,
while working on the F/V PONTOS, Plaintiff suffered a rupture
of his right distal bicep tendon. Despite his injury,
Plaintiff remained on the vessel and worked the rest of the
trip until it returned to port a day or two later.
back on shore, an Atlantic Cape Fisheries' employee
referred Plaintiff to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thomas
Barrett, who recommended an immediate surgical repair, which
he performed on September 29, 2014. Plaintiff was unable to
work until he was cleared by Dr. Barrett on March 20, 2015.
contend that on March 20, 2015, Plaintiff came to the
Atlantic Cape Fisheries' office and met with Sam Martin,
the vice-president of operations, along with another employee
who was a notary, to sign a fit-for-duty form and formal
release of his claims. Martin claims that he read each line
of the four-page release to Plaintiff, and asked whether
Plaintiff wanted to review it with a lawyer or his family.
Martin claims that Plaintiff declined, and after
understanding that he was giving up all of his rights
relating to his injury, Plaintiff signed the release.
Defendants further relate that Plaintiff was paid $16, 800 in
advance during his period out of work, $9, 000 for
maintenance, $25, 000 for cure, and $5, 000 in “new
money” when he signed the release. Defendants argue
that Plaintiff's claims against them are barred by this
valid release, which was supported by proper consideration
and was knowingly agreed to by Plaintiff.
has opposed Defendants' motion and disputes
Defendants' characterization of the release and the
circumstances of his meeting with Martin and the payments he
received while on medical leave. Plaintiff relates that the
$50 per day in maintenance, which was insufficient under the
law, left him in a dire financial condition, and when he met
with Martin, he was desperate to return to work to regain his
regular income. Plaintiff claims that Martin knew of his
financial plight, and laughed at Plaintiff's initial
request for $20, 000 when Martin asked him what it would take
the settle the matter, and said he would only pay $5, 000.
Plaintiff further claims that Martin said that Plaintiff
would never work for Atlantic Cape Fisheries again if
Plaintiff did not sign the release or took the release to an
attorney. Plaintiff relates that Martin never explained the
legal consequences of the provisions in the release.
claims that Martin showed him a one-page release, on which
Plaintiff wrote his name and filled out some other
information, and a copy of only that page was provided to
him. The purported release that Defendants have provided in
support of their motion contains four pages, however, and
Plaintiff's name is misspelled on the remaining pages,
including in his alleged signature.
the meeting, Plaintiff cashed the $5, 000 check to pay some
outstanding debts, and returned to fishing on the F/V PONTOS
for two trips. According to Plaintiff, when he returned from
the tips, Atlantic Cape Fisheries deducted $3, 000 - $4, 000
from his fishing shares to recover the “advances”
it paid Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that because Atlantic
Cape Fisheries refused to refund his wages, he quit.
Plaintiff relates that he successfully ...