Just ask Gonzo: Jones Act hand injury case in discovery

Steve Gonzalez May 17, 2006, 12:38am

Reader: I was doing a google search for my own name and came across your article and publication about a gentleman who was injured while working a barge.

Out of sheer morbid curiosity, is there a way that you can let me know what happened in the case filed by Jeffrey Harris against Lewis and Clark Marine last year? Since we share the same name, I would like to see what has happened in his case.

Jeff Harris
Fresno, Calif.

Gonzo: There has not been much progress in the case you are inquiring about as the case is currently in the discovery phase.

Jeffrey Lewis Harris filed a Jones Act lawsuit against Granite City-based Lewis & Clark Marine May 11, 2005, in Madison County Circuit Court seeking damages for a hand injury he sustained working on the M/V Karen Michelle.

According to the complaint, on Aug. 12, 2004, while traveling on the Mississippi River neat the LDC/ACBL terminal in St. Louis, Harris released a wench which suddenly stopped and struck his hand and caught his left thumb.

Harris claims Lewis and Clark failed to provide him with a reasonably safe place to work, suitable equipment to perform his assigned duties, adequate supervision, and adequate assistance to perform his assigned job duties.

As a result, Harris claims he suffered extensive injuries to his left thumb and hand and wrist, aggravated a condition in his left thumb, lost wages, experienced pain and suffering, incurred medical expenses, and sustained a permanent disfigurement.

Harris is seeking at least $100,000 in damages together with all costs of the suit, prejudgment interest, and any other relief the court may deem just and proper.

He also is seeking at least $40 per day for maintenance and cure alleging Lewis and Clark has failed to meet its duty under General Maritime Law to provide full and adequate maintenance and cure for injuries.

The case was originally assigned to Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis, but in August of 2005, Lewis & Clark, represented by Simon Tonkin of St. Louis, filed a motion for a new judge.

The case was then reassigned to Judge George Moran who retired earlier this year, prompting the case to be assigned to his replacement, Lola Maddox.

Maddox has set a case management conference on May 24.

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