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Campbell v. Teco Barge Lines

July 5, 2006

WILMA J. CAMPBELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TECO BARGE LINES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Murphy, Chief District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter came before the Court on June 12, 2006, for a hearing on Defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Wilma Campbell, worked for Teco Barge Lines as a cook. Campbell claims that she was injured while unloading groceries as part of her duties as a member of the crew aboard the M/V Marge Kovac in November 2001. She filed a two count complaint against Teco on November 1, 2004, alleging that Teco was negligent under the Jones Act (Count I) and that the M/V Marge Kovac was unseaworthy (Count II).

Campbell's claims are limited to one incident: unloading a grocery order which was put on the M/V Marge Kovac before November 12, 2001. Campbell claims that the grocery order was unusually large; there is a factual dispute over who placed the order -- whether it was Campbell herself, or another cook, Theresa Hestead. The groceries were brought on board by other members of the crew and placed all over the galley and the dining room. Campbell had to pick up boxes from the floor to make a pathway to get to the freezer, and she claims she had no help -- even though she needed it.

Specifically, Campbell alleges that Teco was negligent in the following ways:

a. fail[ing] to provide plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work; and/or

b. fail[ing] to provide plaintiff with safe and suitable equipment with which to perform her job duties; and/or

c. fail[ing] to provide adequate help, manpower and assistance to perform the work; and/or

d. requir[ing] plaintiff to perform repetitive and excessive lifting and excessive manual work under the conditions and considering her capacity.

(Complaint, Count I, at para. 6) She also claims that the M/V Marge Kovac was unseaworthy because "there was inadequate manpower and crew to enable [her] to safely and properly perform her job duties; and/or there was inexperienced help and crew at the time and place required; and/or there was inadequate equipment to enable plaintiff to safely and properly perform her job duties." (Complaint, Count II, para. 6)

Teco argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Campbell has failed to produce any evidence of negligence or that Teco had notice of any alleged dangerous conditions. According to Teco, Campbell never complained that she needed equipment or other crew members to help her put away the groceries. Further, Teco argues that the evidence establishes that it was reasonable for it to expect that Campbell could put away groceries without equipment or help from crew members.

In response, Campbell argues that she did complain about the large grocery order, but her complaints fell on deaf ears. She also points out that several months before this incident she was told by the Captain that the other crew ...


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