The plaintiff claimed that the defendant Sky Cruises (also known as Sea Escape) improperly operated its sewage treatment system on board the passenger ship Scandinavian Sky in violation of Coast Guard regulations, so that it produced poisonous gases, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. When the decedent crewmember was ordered to do repair work on the system it resulted in a leak of raw sewage that filled the work area knee high. In addition poison gas caused the crewmember to become unconscious within 10 to 15 seconds and then die. The incident resulted in the death of four crewmembers and injury to three other workers. The cases of the other three crewmembers deaths had been previously settled. This case was the first one to go to a jury.
Based on the foregoing, the plaintiff also claimed that the defendant was reckless with regard to safety in so far as the operation of the sewage system and requested punitive damages. In light of the fact that the seaman was not married and had no children, the Judge limited the available damages to pre-death pain and suffering and punitive damages.
The defendant claimed that the accident was unavoidable. The defendant also claimed that the seaman had disobeyed his orders and that the sewage system was in compliance with Coast Guard regulations. James Best, Marine Engineer and Architect, testified that the sewage, as a result, produced poison gas. Harry Baxley, Marine Surveyor, a Coast Guard investigator for the accident, testified that it violated the applicable Coast Guard regulation. Bonifacio Flores, M.D., medical examiner, testified that the crewmember was conscious for 10 to 15 seconds before death. He also stated that hydrogen sulfide was more deadly than cyanide. Alfred Isaacon, engineer, testified that the sewage system was in compliance with Coast Guard regulations. Vessel Staff Captain, Tommy Isakson, testified that the defendant was very concerned about safety. Vessel First Engineer, Raol Skoqlund, testified that a coast guard inspector had previously informed him that the operation of the sewage system was proper.
$6,100,000.00 awarded to seafarer’s family.