Edwardsville, IL: A native of Puerto Rico was recently awarded a record $7.5 million settlement in a back and neck injury lawsuit following the sudden explosion of an air tank aboard a marine vessel that was docked for repairs. Plaintiff Edward Perez-Mossetty was seriously injured in the explosion.
Back and Neck Injury Plaintiff Scores Record .5 Million Jones Act SettlementAccording to an account in The Telegraph (11/19/14) of Alton, Illinois, the then-37-year-old was affecting repairs aboard the vessel on behalf of defendants American Tugs Inc. and an unnamed boat company based in Alton, Illinois. The plaintiff was in the engine room that also housed an aging air tank that was exhibiting signs of thinning and pitting.
According to court records in the back injury compensation claim, the tank had been installed without a working pressure relief valve and was normally operated in an automated fashion, with the air compressor automatically shutting down when the desired pressure within the tank was reached.
However, on the day of the accident, employees had been operating the compressor in manual mode as the compressor had been shutting off too soon. On the day of the accident, pressure within the tank had built up to a level that the pitted walls of the tank could not withstand. The ensuing explosion – akin to a balloon popping when the air within builds up to a force the walls of the balloon cannot withstand – caused Perez-Mossetty to be thrown into the air. He landed on his neck and sustained serious back and neck injuries from which, in spite of surgical intervention and months of rehabilitative treatment, he has failed to fully recover.
The accident occurred in 2009 aboard the MV Alejandro. The back and neck injury lawsuit was brought in 2010 under the Jones Act, general maritime law and common law negligence, according to the report.
An investigation by the US Coast Guard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Illinois Boiler Inspector confirmed the pitted and weakened condition of the tank (due to water accumulation over time, according to the report), and the absence of the pressure relief valve. Officials noted that there would have been plenty of opportunity for the defendants to install the proper pressure relief valve over the many years the tank remained in the engine room of the vessel.
The plaintiff’s neck injury lawyer noted that Perez-Mossetty suffered a serious neck injury when he landed after being thrown into the air from the explosion. The plaintiff suffered partial paralysis and serious motor and sensory impairments. He requires assistance to walk and to maintain daily activities. Perez-Mossetty also remains in constant pain and will require assistive devices and ongoing medical care and treatment going forward for as long as he remains alive. He can no longer work.
Perez-Mossetty had initially sought $46 million when the neck injury compensation claim was filed in 2010. That amount notwithstanding, the $7.5 million settlement was described in the report as a record amount.