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Price v. Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 18, 2014

TROY D. PRICE, JR.
v.
ATLANTIC RO-RO CARRIERS, et al

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For Troy D. Price, Jr., Plaintiff: Gerald F Gay, LEAD ATTORNEY, Arnold Sevel and Gay PA, Towson, MD; Bernard J Sevel, Arnold Sevel and Gay PA, Towson, MD.

For Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers, Inc., Mos Shipping Co., Ltd., Baltic Mercur Joint Stock Company, Defendants: J Stephen Simms, LEAD ATTORNEY, Simms Showers LLP, Baltimore, MD; Kirk M Lyons, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Lyons and Flood LLP, New York, NY; John Randolph Foster, PRO HAC VICE, Lyons and Flood LLP, New York, NY; John Thomas Ward, Simms Showers LLP, Baltimore, MD; Marios John Monopolis, Simms Showers LLP, Baltimore, MD.

For Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers, Inc., Mos Shipping Co., Ltd., Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers, Inc., Baltic Mercur Joint Stock Company, ThirdParty Plaintiffs: J Stephen Simms, LEAD ATTORNEY, Simms Showers LLP, Baltimore, MD; Kirk M Lyons, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Lyons and Flood LLP, New York, NY; John Randolph Foster, PRO HAC VICE, Lyons and Flood LLP, New York, NY; John Thomas Ward, Simms Showers LLP, Baltimore, MD; Marios John Monopolis, Simms Showers LLP, Baltimore, MD.

For Rukert Terminals Corporation, Rukert Terminals Corporation, ThirdParty Defendant: James W Bartlett, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Semmes Bowen and Semmes PC, Baltimore, MD.

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MEMORANDUM

Catherine C. Blake, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Troy D. Price, Jr. seeks relief from defendants Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers, Inc., Mos Shipping. Ltd., and Baltic Mercur Joint Stock Co. under section 905(b) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § § 901, et seq. (" LHWCA" ). Price alleges that defendants' negligence resulted in his personal injuries aboard the M/V Valga. The parties have filed three separate motions for summary judgment: (1) defendants move collectively for partial summary judgment, arguing that section 11-108 of the Maryland Code's Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article applies to Price's claim, limiting his prospective noneconomic damages to $695,000; (2) Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers, Inc. (" ARRC" ) moves for summary judgment, alleging that it had no duty to Price under section 905(b); and (3) third-party defendant, The Rukert Terminals Corporation (" Rukert" ), moves for partial summary judgment, maintaining that defendants' impleader under Rule 14(c) was improper. For the reasons set forth below, the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

On August 19, 2008, Troy D. Price, Jr., a longshoreman employed by Beacon Stevedoring Corporation, an affiliate of The Rukert Terminals Corporation, was injured aboard the M/V Valga. Owned and operated by Mos Shipping. Ltd. (" Mos" ) and Baltic Mercur Joint Stock Co. (" Baltic" ), the Valga was moored at a pier in one of Rukert's terminals, where Beacon's harbor workers loaded and unloaded its cargo.

Prior to August 2008, the Valga arrived in Baltimore on a monthly basis transporting cargoes arranged by ARRC, the commercial

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manager under contract with the vessel's owner. Pursuant to its agreement with Mos, ARRC's role as the Valga's commercial manager required it to negotiate employment, or cargoes, for the vessel; coordinate the vessel's voyages; and appoint stevedores in locations where the vessel found work. (Shannon Decl. Ex. 1, Management Agreement 11, ECF No. 74.) ARRC's responsibilities under the agreement, however, did not extend to the technical management of the Valga, or to the management of its crew. ( Id.) To oversee the loading and unloading of the Valga's cargo in Baltimore, ARRC's " port captain," Vadim Belyakov, routinely joined the vessel upon its arrival at Rukert's terminals, where he checked the condition of the cargo and communicated with both the stevedores and the crew regarding the operation's logistics. (Belyakov Dep. 11:18-21, 14:14-21, 15:1-8, ECF No. 71-2.) According to Belyakov, while the stevedores worked aboard the vessel, he would split his time between the pier and the Valga. When aboard the Valga, he conducted business from a computer in a private cabin, separated from the decks where the longshoremen discharged the cargo. ( Id. at 31:5-19.)

On the day of the accident, Price placed cargo onto the elevator lift in the lower " hold" of the Valga, while a fellow harbor worker, Elliott Nichols, operated a forklift on the upper " tween" deck. Used to raise cargo from the hold to the tween, the elevator lift left a large open " hatch" in the upper deck when lowered back to the hold. The lift was manned by Alexandr Nosov, the Valga engineer responsible for operating the elevator lift and for directing the stevedores to evenly distribute cargo on its platform. (Price Dep. 47:5, ECF No. 77-1.)

After several hours of operations on August 19, fluid--likely from a hydraulic leak in one of the forklifts--began to accumulate on the tween level and remained, despite being visible to the stevedores and crew. (Nichols Dep. 51:17-18, 108:22, 109:1-5, ECF No. 77-3). When Nichols subsequently attempted to maneuver his forklift around the open hatch, the forklift's brakes malfunctioned and its wheels began to skid on the slippery deck. ( Id.) Nichols lost control of the machinery and jumped off the forklift, which then fell through the open hatch and struck Price, who was working in the hold below. Price's leg was severely injured as a result. Nichols, Price, Nosov, and several other stevedores at the work site witnessed Price's accident. (Nosov Dep. 43:18-21, ECF No. 77-2.) Belyakov did not.

Although Price, Nichols, and Nosov disagree about whether safety cones and painted lines surrounded the hatch's opening, they all agree that the platform lacked surrounding metal guardrails, which, according to Belyakov and Nosov, would have impeded the stevedores' ability to remove the cargo from the elevator lift. ( Id. at 34:20-22, 35:1.)[1] Belyakov, however, was not on the tween deck when the accident occurred, and arrived only after being summoned by the Valga's captain. ...


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