SBSB Eastham Wins Take-Nothing Judgment in 8-Figure Traumatic Brain Injury Trial

Netherlands-based company exonerated after two-week trial over worker’s injuries

HOUSTON – Schouest, Bamdas, Soshea, BenMaier & Eastham PLLC (SBSB Eastham) has secured a defense victory for a Netherlands-based company sued by a longshore employee who claimed damages well into eight figures. That employee filed suit after she was injured at the Port of Houston.

After a two-week trial, a Harris County jury returned a verdict on the evening of January 23, exonerating the company of liability for the 2015 accident. A take-nothing judgment will be entered against the plaintiff.

Firm partners Robert L. Klawetter, Christina K. Schovajsa and Thomas M. Stanley, and associate Dylan Hoke, represented the manager of the heavy lift crane ship Fairload sued by a longshore worker who was struck by a 14-ton spreader bar following a heavy lift cargo operation.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed to have received a traumatic brain injury that caused her to suffer from cognitive, neurological and psychological injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. She also alleged orthopedic injuries to her cervical and lumbar spine.

The plaintiff filed suit against the vessel manager for recovery of personal injury damages under Section 905(b) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, including punitive damages for alleged gross negligence.

SBSB Eastham’s trial team, under the supervision of Mr. Klawetter, successfully argued that their client did not breach any of the Scindia duties owed by a vessel owner/operator under Section 905(b) of the act.

They also vigorously cross-examined seven expert witnesses called by the plaintiff to testify in the areas of heavy lift crane operations, vocational rehabilitation, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, psychiatry, psychology and economics.

SBSB Eastham attorneys also were granted a motion for directed verdict at the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case dismissing claims for punitive damages based on alleged gross negligence.

“We are very pleased with the jury’s decision,” said Mr. Klawetter. “We hope this verdict will convince others that with careful and thorough preparation, it is still possible for a corporate defendant to obtain justice in a serious personal injury case in Harris County.”

The case is Franchae Norman v. Jumbo Offshore USA, LLC, Cause No. 2017-14082, in the 334th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas.