Our client was a crewmember aboard 9000 horsepower oceangoing tugs. He came to us with a claim for profound loss of hearing we suspected was the result of noise aboard the tugs. We filed suit against what was then the largest tug company in the world. They had successfully defended previous hearing loss cases and fought our claim tenaciously. Their final settlement offer before trial was $20,000.
In the course of the litigation we consulted with experts, including marine surveyors, naval architects and physicians specializing in occupational hearing loss. At trial to a jury in federal court in Seattle, we established that our client had indeed been exposed to damaging levels of noise, especially on deck, where noise emanating from the stack was comparable to that created by a jet engine. That he had lengthy enough exposure to account for his hearing loss was proven by vessel deck logs which were withheld by the defendants until just before the conclusion of the trial.
The jury found for our client, awarding damages exceeding $250,000, including $75,000 in punitive damages.
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