Captain Jay Rivera was a state-commissioned Branch Pilot for the Port Aransas Bar and Corpus Christi Bay. Marine pilots are required by law in most major seaports of the world for large commercial ships. The primary role of a marine pilot is to safely navigate large vessels through narrow coastal areas using their extensive local knowledge and navigational skill. Commercial vessels of all kinds rely on pilots to operate safely on a day-to-day basis. Without the knowledge that these pilots possess, it would not be possible for vessels to operate in congested waters or navigate port areas.
Captain Rivera was dispatched to pilot M/V TARPON in August 2016. Once aboard the tug, he stepped into a dimly lit hatch access door and rolled his ankle. He was diagnosed with a fractured metatarsal in his foot. Captain Rivera was ultimately declared unfit to maintain his mariner certification as a result of the incident. He sued the owner of M/V TARPON and received a judgment for over $11 million, consisting significantly of lost future wages. That verdict was recently upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed that the vessel was unseaworthy and that the lower court did not err in assessing the value of Captain Rivera’s lost future wages.
A marine pilot’s work is dangerous. Pilots often join incoming ships in open water by climbing a rope ladder to the main deck. These “Jacobs ladders” can extend up to 27 feet along the ship’s freeboard. Other times, pilots may be lowered to the deck of a ship from a helicopter.
The attorneys of BoatLaw, LLP have represented seamen for over forty years and have experience with pilot injuries/deaths. The firm’s admiralty lawyers have a unique understanding of the dangers faced by these mariners.