A North Carolina man whose foot was mangled in a mishap during a dredging operation in Florida will receive a $3.5 million settlement for his Jones Act claim, his attorneys report.
Don Evans, Jr. and Seth Buskirk of Clark, Newton & Evans in Wilmington said that in 2017 their client, Kyle Ginley, was climbing a ladder up from a smaller boat to a larger boat while the two vessels were pulled next to each other. When the captain of the tugboat that was pulling the larger boat took some slack out of the tow wire, Ginley’s foot was smashed between the two vessels. He suffered a fractured foot and a degloving injury (in which flesh is torn from the foot).
Evans said the captain of the tug called back to check if he was clear to pull in the line but the response was unintelligible and he proceeded anyway. He also said that there was some debate between the sides over whether pulling the tug into line constituted acceleration or had an effect on the position of the craft.
Ginley sued in federal court in Florida under the Jones Act, a federal law under which seamen—who aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation—can sue their employers for negligence. He alleged that the defendants had failed to provide a safe means of moving between the boats, that they had repositioned the vessels without receiving clearance to do so, that the ladder rungs used were too far apart, and that the tugboat was undermanned.
Evans said it was a combination of these factors that caused the problem.
“It seems that when really bad accidents happen, a lot of things all coincide to make it happen and we think that’s what happened here,” he said.
Ginley reached the settlement agreement with the dredge operator in March 2021. Evans said that a separate confidential settlement was reached with two towing companies
Jules Massee of Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel in Tampa, Florida, represented the dredge operator. Massee did not return a phone call seeking comment on the settlement.
Eric Thiel of Banker Lopez Gassler, also in Tampa, Florida, represented the towing companies. Thiel declined comment due to the confidential nature of his clients’ settlement.t