Galveston's federal judiciary is the oldest in Texas and Tuesday it logged its biggest ever verdict from the bench.
U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Kent ordered Tonghai Maritime, Cosco Bulk Carriers Co. Ltd. and Pan Ocean Shipping Co. Ltd. to pay more than $1.9 million to a longshoreman crippled when 8,000 pounds of steel fell on him in 2004.
Houston resident Patrick Kirksey, 39, was part of a crew working on a boat in the Houston Ship Channel unloading coiled steel and bundles of pipes from its hold.
An 8,000 pound steel coil fell on Kirksey, crushing his right leg and injuring his left hand, right arm and right shoulder. His right leg was later amputated.
The defendant companies denied liability, blaming the fall on a crane operator. However, an independent marine surveyor testified that the coils appeard to have been stored improperly.
Kent also found that Pan Ocean never notified the longshoreman that the ship had encountered harsh weather, which could have shifted the cargo load, before reaching Texas.
Scott E. Williams
The Galveston County Daily News
May 23, 2007