Sailor Who Falls in the Hold of a Cargo Ship Due to the Lack of Railing and Sufficient Lighting

A sailor was working in the hold on a cargo ship off the coast of Chile.  He was working on a walkway, picking up stacking cones that were used to stabilize the cargo containers during shipment.  As he was working, picking up the cones, he failed to see a 9 1/2 foot drop-off in the middle of the walkway.  Plaintiff’s investigation showed that there were no railings or signs indicating the presence of the drop-off in the dark hold.  As a result of his fall, the sailor suffered brain damage, numbness to his face, vertigo, fractures to his right eye socket and chest, and the loss of use of his right hand.

Plaintiff’s investigation showed that contrary to the shipping company’s claims the area where the plaintiff was working was a walkway that required a railing and/or better lighting.  After a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict for 3.84 million dollars, but reduce the award to 2.95 million dollars because of the sailor’s comparative negligence.