sports 3 days ago

Fairhaven crewman sued Misty Blue after September accident

The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass. — Michael Bonner The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.

Dec. 07--NEW BEDFORD -- A crew member from Fairhaven filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the Misty Blue less than a month before the vessel overturned and sank off Nantucket Monday night. Two crew members remain missing.

On Nov. 8, Matthew Lyons filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boston against Sea Harvest Inc. and the fishing vessel Misty Blue. Court documents show Lyons claimed that on Sept. 15, as a result of negligence by the captain and crew of the vessel, he was seriously injured.

He is seeking $1.5 million in damages, citing "unseaworthy" condition -- a legal term used to describe any unsafe condition occurring on a vessel.

"We don't allege that the vessel was unseaworthy in a layman's terms," Lyons' attorney Joseph Abromovitz said. "We allege that there was an unseaworthy condition that caused Matt Lyons' accident."

Lyons had finished cleaning out the fish hold of the Misty Blue when the accident occurred, which resulted in him shattering his heel, Abromovitz said.

He was climbing up the ladder to leave the boat's fish hold when he moved to avoid the captain. He put his foot on the landing section of decking around the fish hold, which it gave way.

The fall shattered Lyons' heel, which will force him to miss a considerable amount of work time, Abromovitz said. The injury will require surgery.

President of Atlantic Capes Fisheries LLC, Daniel Cohen said the company is affording Lyons everything they can. Cohen also understands the lawsuit is protecting the rights of the crew member.

"We hope he gets better quickly," Cohen said.

Lyons' attorney stressed throughout a conversation with the Standard-Times the legal definition of the term "unseaworthy."

Abromovitz cited a past client who worked on a non-self propelled oil barge, meaning it moved by being pushed or pulled.

The barge was tied up in Boston Harbor when his client boarded the boat and slipped on a chicken bone. The fall blew out his knee.

"It doesn't matter if it's' an inconsiderate seagull that picked up a chicken bone and dropped it on the barge, that's an unseaworthy condition," Abromovitz said.

Chad Brayton, the vessel manager for Atlantic Cape Fisheries Inc., said the Misty Blue had no previous complaints or issues.

"Everything is up to date," he said. "The boat is in great shape."

Cohen said the vessel was inspected by the Coast Guard in March and passed.

"The fact that this happened is completely unrelated to the vessel sinking," Cohen said. "Just because the law uses the term unseaworthy, it doesn't mean the vessel was unseaworthy then or when it sank."

In 2011, a Pennsylvania man sued Atlantic Capes Fisheries Inc., claiming injuries he sustained were caused by negligence by the company on the vessel Enterprise. The matter was settled out of court in 2013.

Abromovitz said Atlantic Capes has been receptive in discussion about the case.

The Enterprise was credited with rescuing two crew members of the Misty Blue on Monday night.

Michael Roberts, 49, and Jonathan Saraiva, 32, remain missing after the Misty Blue rolled over and sank around 6:30 p.m., Monday, in waters some 10 miles off Nantucket, according to Atlantic Capes.

The Coast Guard and Massachusetts State Police searched for the men into Tuesday night.

The State Police believe they found the vessel using sonar, but weather conditions prevented divers from entering the water on Tuesday.

The Misty Blue departed Fairhaven on Saturday at 9 p.m. for Nantucket Shoals to harvest surf clams. Atlantic Capes said it last checked in with the crew at 3 p.m. on Monday.

The two men who were rescued, Misty Blue's Captain Eric Arabian, 44, and a crew member, Colby McMullen 22, were "fine" according to Brayton.

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT

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