EDWARDSVILLE - A worker injured following an accident on a tug on the Mississippi River has filed suit against his employer under federal maritime statutes.
Marty Byrd filed suit Dec. 31 against National Repair and Maintenance, which repairs barges and towboats, following the accident in February last year at the shipyard in Hartford.
Byrd states in the complaint that he was struck when a hatch blew off, which knocked him back and down 18 feet to a steel deck below where he was working.
The welder filed suit under the federal Jones Act as he works for more than 30 percent of his time on a vessel and therefore is regarded as a seaman under the statute.
Under the act, an employer has a duty of care to provide a reasonably safe place to work, comply with regulations, and to make sure employees have trained co-workers and competent supervisors.
National Repair and Maintenance, which is headquartered in Ohio and operates yards on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
In his complaint, Byrd states he was tasked with working on a tug air testing a tank for leaks. This is done by fitting the testing equipment to the tank's hatch.
However, the original hatch did not have a fitting so a test hatch had to be added, secured by a T-bar. The plaintiff was given both by a fellow worker. The test hatch blew off, hit the plaintiff, causing him to fall back to the deck below, the complaint states.
The company is accused of negligence for failing to provide adequate training, to inspect hazards, and to provide plaintiff with reasonably safe tools.
Byrd claims to have suffered permanent injuries to his brain, hands, wrist, elbows, shoulders, legs, arms, and back. He has suffered pain and mental suffering, the complaint states.
He is seeking a fair and sufficient amount to compensate him for his injuries and for medical costs.
The complaint does note the company has paid benefits under a "different statutory scheme" and is entitled to credit for those payments.
Byrd is represented by Roy C. Dripps of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel of Maryville.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 2019-L-1851.