Marine Solution Services, Inc. v. Horton

[B]Date Decided[/B]: May 16th, 2003
[B]Decided By[/B]: Alaska Supreme Court (state)
[B]Court[/B]: The Supreme Court of Alaska
[B]Citation[/B]: Marine Solution Services, Inc. v. Horton, 70 P.3d 393, 2003 AMC 1566 (Alaska 2003)
Horton served as the presidentand chief executive officer of Marine Solution Services (“MSS”). The company owned [I]Barge 204[/I] which was currently located at Pickworth Dock. Due to a transfer of ownership at the dockthe barge had to be moved. Hortoncontacted Steve Adams, the skipper of the tug [I]Solution[/I] and employee of MSS, and informed him of the need to tow [I]Barge 204[/I] and that Horton would assisthim in the task. While preparing thebarge to be towed, the crew of the [I]Solution[/I]secured a tow line to the barge but did not pass it through the Panama chocks,large U-shaped pipes that prevent the lines from coming loose as the bargeturns, on the barge. While in tow,Horton noticed a collision would occur if the [I]Solution[/I] did not head further offshore. Horton ran to the forward part of the barge,and signaled Adams. Adams gave theengines full power which caused the towline to jerk taut and snap across thedeck which smashed Horton legs against the weather wall. As a result, Horton suffered compoundfractures in his legs. These fractures causednerve, vascular and muscular damage which required his legs to be reconstructedand continue to chronically pain Horton.

Horton filed twolawsuits. Both defendants filed motionsfor summary judgment. Adams argued thatas a seaman Horton is unable to bring a claim against a fellow employee, and inthe case that he is found not to be a seaman his exclusive remedies exist underthe Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). MSS sought summary judgment on the basis thatHorton was not a seaman and therefore cannot pursue his claims under the JonesAct, the doctrine of unseaworthiness, or maintenance and cure. The company also argued that Horton’s claimfor common law negligence is prohibited because his exclusive remedy is theAlaska Workers Compensation Act (AWCA). The Superior Court granted Adams’ motion but denied the rest. At trial, a jury found Horton to be a seamanand recovered $186,000 in cure, $175,00 for past damages, and $1,155,00 forfuture damages. The trial court modifiedthese awards and both parties appealed. Read More…