United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Andrew Lee Knight brings claims for damages he suffered in an
accident that occurred while he was working as a tankerman
aboard the M/V SEA HAWK, a vessel owned by Defendant Kirby
Offshore Marine Pacific, LLC (“Kirby”). Plaintiff
brings a negligence claim under the Jones Act and an
unseaworthiness claim under the general maritime law against
Defendant Kirby, his employer. This matter went to trial
February 19 through 20, 2019. Having considered the evidence
admitted at trial and the arguments of counsel, this Court
makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
To the extent a finding of fact constitutes a conclusion of
law, and vice versa, the Court adopts it as such.
Kirby, a marine transport company, owned and operated the M/V
SEA HAWK, a tow boat.
all material times, Plaintiff Andrew Knight was a Jones Act
seaman employed by Kirby as an offshore tankerman.
Knight boarded the M/V SEA HAWK in December 2016 near
Seattle, Washington for a voyage that involved towing a barge
from Everett, Washington to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
M/V SEA HAWK was captained by Alan Ryan, a Kirby employee,
during its voyage from Everett to Dutch Harbor.
M/V SEA HAWK stopped at various ports along its voyage
including Vancouver, British Columbia; Anacortes, Washington;
Port Angeles, Washington; Hoonah, Alaska; and Dutch Harbor,
M/V SEA HAWK last stopped in Hoonah, Alaska before reaching
Aboard the M/V SEA HAWK during this voyage was a stern line
used by the crew to secure the barge to the tow boat when
entering and exiting ports. The stern line was not used in
stern line was firm, several inches thick, and more than 100
Captain Ryan conducted an inspection of the stern line in
Everett and at that time the stern line appeared slightly
used but not chafed.
Once the stern line becomes chafed it is important to change
the line at the earliest possible time that it is safe to do
Captain Ryan inspected the stern line as it was being used to
secure the barge to the M/V SEA HAWK during the tow
boat's entrance into Hoonah, and at that time the stern
line was in good condition.
stern line was used to secure the barge to the M/V SEA HAWK
while the tow boat was in Hoonah.
While the M/V SEA HAWK was anchored in Hoonah, a storm blew
in. The storm produced five-foot seas and winds of 60 miles
While the stern line was being used in Hoonah, the rough
weather conditions caused the line to chafe.
After the M/V SEA HAWK left Hoonah, the stern line was hauled
back onto the tow boat.
Crew members should inspect the stern line every time there
is an opportunity to do so. Captain Ryan testified, however,
that it was company policy to inspect the lines before
entering a port but not when leaving a port.
crew had an opportunity to inspect the stern line before the
M/V SEA HAWK departed Hoonah.
Captain Ryan should have known that the line was chafed
before the M/V SEA HAWK departed Hoonah.
stern line could have been changed while the M/V SEA HAWK was
stern line also could have been changed shortly after the M/V
SEA HAWK left Hoonah.
M/V SEA HAWK departed Hoonah sometime before January 1, 2017.
January 6, 2017, the M/V SEA HAWK was a vessel operating in
the navigable waters of the United States near Alaska's
January 6, 2017, the weather conditions where the M/V SEA
HAWK was located included four-foot seas and ...