Deckhand claims injuries from lifting heavy objects

Kelly Holleran Sep. 21, 2009, 1:54pm

A Missouri man claims his back was injured multiple times after he was repeatedly required to lift heavy objects for his work.

Charles McKowan filed a lawsuit Sept. 15 in Madison County Circuit Court against American Commercial Lines.

McKowan claims he worked as a seaman for American Commercial Lines when he twice suffered injuries to his back.

During the first incident, McKowan was working as a deck hand for American Commercial Lines on a ship known as the Jane Huffman on July 29, 2008, according to the complaint.

McKowan's supervisor instructed him to help lift a very heavy winch motor while he was working on the ship, the suit states.

"While doing so, the bar with which the motor was lifted slipped and Plaintiff felt a sharp pain in his lower back," the complaint says. "Immediately thereafter, he continued to have severe back pain, and sought emergency medical treatment."

Again, McKowan was injured on April 27 when he was required to untangle, lift up and put out a heavy rigging line on the Jane Huffman, according to the complaint.

"In doing so, he was in tight quarters and had to pull up heavy coils of line in narrow confines," the suit states. "In putting out a rigging line, by himself, he felt a pull in his back reinjuring same."

As a result of both incidents, McKowan claims he suffered serious injuries to his lower back and legs, incurred medical costs, experienced pain and suffering and sustained lost wages because he was forced to miss work for about three months after the incident with the motor.

McKowan blames American Commercial Lines for failing to provide him with a safe work place, for failing to provide proper equipment, for requiring him to lift a heavy weight, for failing to provide sufficient personnel to accomplish the task in a safe manner and for failing to exercise reasonable care to correct unsafe conditions on the boat. In addition, American Commercial Lines failed to take actions after they were given notice of dangerous conditions in the workplace and failed to provide sufficient personnel to accomplish the rigging line task in a safe manner, the suit states.

In the two-count suit, McKowan is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus other relief the court deems just.

Gary K. Burger Jr. of Cantor and Burger in St. Louis will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-979.

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