The maritime attorneys Keith Brais & Richard Rusak of the Brais law firm had the honor to represent Mr. Lloyd Hughes. Mr. Hughes was an assistant engineer for Ft. Worth, Texas based CSC Applied Technologies, LLC. CSC Applied Technologies was awarded a contract from the United States Navy to furnish all personnel, services and such other resources necessary to maintain and operate the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC). Located on Andros Island in the Bahamas, AUTEC’s mission is to provide instrumented operational areas in a real world environment to satisfy research, development, test and evaluation requirements and operational performance assessment of war fighter readiness in support of the full spectrum of maritime warfare.
As a part of his shipboard responsibilities, Mr. Hughes was required to maintain, repair and replace, as needed, shipboard light fixtures aboard the Naval research vessel RANGE ROVER. On April 8, 2010, Mr. Hughes was attempting to replace a light bulb within an exterior halogen light fixture mounted to the fascia high above one of the ship’s decks. As he was trained and as he’d done on numerous previous occasions, Mr. Hughes utilized a ladder to reach the light fixture. He loosened some and later all of the bolts holding the fixture in place in order to lower the fixture in a controlled fashion so he could work on it on deck. The fixture, however, did not lower away from the fascia as expected and, instead, remained fixed to the fascia because it had been painted over which caused it to be stuck. At this point, Mr. Hughes carefully pulled on the light fixture to break it free when it broke loose unexpectedly. Mr. Hughes’ momentum, awkward position on top of the ladder and the unavailability of a co-worker caused him to fall off the ladder and strike the deck.
Mr. Hughes suffered serious injuries, including but not limited to: (a) a comminuted distal left tibia fracture a/k/a pilon fracture, (b) a proximal fibula fracture, and (c) a mild acute compression fracture superior endplate of the L1. Additionally, he suffered a broken small toe and badly bruised tail bone. He also developed compartment syndrome and later underwent bilateral (both sides) fasciotomy of his left leg. These surgeries left horrific scars to Mr. Hughes’ leg. Later he was diagnosed by his treating neurologist with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) a/k/a Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) in his left leg. CRPS or RDS is a condition whereby a person experiences a burning type pain, tenderness and swelling of an extremity associated with varying degrees of sweating, warmth and/or coolness, flushing, discoloration and shiny skin. His injured required him to undergo multiple surgical procedures including a fasciotomy.
Court documents allege Mr. Hughes’ fall and resulting injuries were the result of a routine job made unsafe and dangerous because; (a) the light fixture had been painted over and effectively sealed to the fascia, (b) the ladder in question was not reasonably suited for the intended purpose of working overhead and the height in question, and (c) no co-worker had not been assigned to assist Mr. Hughes while working in a precarious position and at an unsafe height.
After bringing suit in Federal Court against CSC Applied Technologies and the United States for their alleged negligence, the parties entered into a settlement whereby CSC contributed $1,040,000 and the United States contributed $250,000.