In February 2013, a 26-year-old man was working on a barge in Baytown, Texas when an approximately 800-pound steel pipe rolled onto his leg and fractured his ankle. In addition to the ankle fracture, the young man had to undergo several medical procedures, surgeries, and physical therapy that would aid in improving his impaired gait. Attorneys Scott C. Krist and Alex W. Horton represented the longshoreman in a case against Coastal Cargo of Texas Inc. for failing to properly load the barge from which the steel pipe fell.
Throughout the case, an expert in packaging forensics maintained that the accident was caused by a fracture in the dunnage Coastal Cargo placed between each layer of the pipe to stabilize it. Standards in the industry call for using hard wood as dunnage when supporting heavy steel pipes. Coastal Cargo, however, used soft wood as dunnage, claiming this was the industry standard and that they had never had issues using the material in the past. The company’s expert in vessel operations claimed that the pipe was unloaded incorrectly, and that this improper handling of the pipe created an unstable V-shape in the steel on the barge. This expert further claimed that attorneys Krist and Horton’s client should not have entered the area of the barge where the accident occurred due to the existence of pinch-points.
The client sustained several at-port injuries and other serious conditions that required expensive medical treatments that caused him to take a lengthy absence from his job. While he was eventually transferred to a sedentary position within his company where he earned a higher salary, he sought to recover $202,000 in past lost earnings. He also sought damages for past and future physical pain and mental anguish.
During the week they were called to trial, the parties settled the case for $2.6 million, with an attorney fee of 40%. Expenses for the case were $129,524.57.
*The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.