The Florida maritime attorneys of Brais Law Firm brought a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family whose loved one drown after falling overboard from the tug boat. On the morning of September 13, 2013, Shaun Cheney was preparing the tugboat Brittany Beyel and barge for a crossing to the Bahamas. As part of his duties, Shaun was required to participate in the repositioning of the tug and barge from the Beyel Brothers’ Merritt Island facility across the Canaveral Barge Canal. While crossing the canal, it was noticed that Shaun was missing. He was last seen by a fellow deckhand securing a line to a stern cleat. Although being aware Shaun was missing, the decision was made to first dock the tug before starting a search and rescue mission. When the search of the area did occur, Shaun could not be found despite being a good swimmer. Tragically, Shaun’s body was found on the bottom of the canal the next afternoon.
Marine employees are protected by the federal Jones Act and maritime law for the negligent acts and unseaworthiness of the vessel they are tasked to work aboard. Under this law, Shaun’s employer, Beyel Brothers, was required to develop safety protocols, post a lookout to alert the captain and crew of an accident, have a sufficient amount of life vests aboard the vessel and immediately effect a search of the area when it becomes known that crew member fell overboard. Based upon our investigation, Beyel Brothers failed to comply with the law. Maritime law recognizes seamen work is hard and often times dangerous. As such, unlike land-based law, marine employers are liable no matter how slight the connection between the wrongful act and death of a worker.
If you have information about this tragedy, we like to hear from you to better assist Shaun’s family. You may call us toll free at (800) 499-0551 or click this link to write to us.