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Judge awards family for wrongful death

In November 2013, a U.S District Judge awarded a family $2.2 million in a wrongful death civil suit. The judge ruled that Moran Towing was at fault for the death of a 58-year-old deckhand during December 2011 in New Jersey. The deckhand got caught in the capstan and was squeezed to death after the tugboat he was working on began making a swing maneuver down the Hackensack River in Essex County.

The Occupational Safety Health Administration and U.S Coast Guard initially ruled that the Moran Towing was not at fault for the deckhand's death. However, the widow went ahead and filed a civil suit for negligence, parental loss and wrongful death against the towing company during the spring of 2013. According to the judge's November ruling, inadequate training constituted negligence.

The attorney representing the family said that Moran initially tried to serve up a story that the crew made up that night, blaming the deckhand for his own death. That is the story Moran gave the New Jersey Medical Examiner, the OSHA, the New Jersey State Police and the U.S Coast Guard. The plaintiffs' attorney believes these agencies didn't have enough time to fully investigate or corroborate the claim.

It is hard for many families to consider taking legal action for wrongful death while grieving the loss of a loved one. Aside from the potential earnings the deceased person provided, families may also be able to recover the loss of inheritance due to untimely death, loss of insurance and other benefits as well as funeral and medical expenses if successful with a wrongful death case.

Source: Greenwich Times, "Judge: New Canaan towing firm at fault in deckhand's death", Time Loh, November 18, 2013

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