www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-dockworker-suit-20130218,0,4017335.story

baltimoresun.com

Dockworker sues ship owner for $5.2 million after coal pier collision

Suit says injuries, mental anguish followed August accident at Curtis Bay

By Candy Thomson, The Baltimore Sun

6:44 PM EST, February 18, 2013

Advertisement

A CSX Transportation dockworker who says he suffered disabling injuries last August when a tanker collided with a Curtis Bay pier has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the shipping company.

David Rienas of Abingdon was atop a coal-loading machine on the Bayside Coal Pier when the Wawasan Ruby struck, "causing it to be dragged down the pier with great force," according to the suit, filed Friday.

Rienas, 42, is asking the court for $5.2 million as compensation for back, neck and rib injuries that have kept him from working and have caused him permanent injuries "including mental anguish, fright and emotional distress and disfigurement."

The suit alleged the crew of Wawasan Ruby, owned by Panama-based Trio Happiness S.A., was guilty of incompetence, speeding and failing to maintain a lookout or use radar. Rienas also expects to file a claim against the vessel for compensation under maritime law, the suit said.

The accident happened on Aug. 25 at about 12:40 p.m. as the 479-foot tanker made the turn from the mouth of the Patapsco River on its way to the Bitumar Asphalt Dock.

Inchcape Shipping Services, an international maritime service provider, told its customers that the ship "missed the channel on the turn."

The collision caused up to $22 million in damages and idled the coal pier for nearly two months.

CSX Transportation Inc. accused Trio Happiness of operating an "unseaworthy, unportworthy and unfit" vessel and went to court to stop the ship from leaving Baltimore. A federal judge allowed the Wawasan Ruby to continue to its next port only after its owner provided a letter of guarantee for payment should CSX win a judgment.

A lawyer for Trio Happiness said that the ship, built in 2010, was under the control of a member of the Association of Maryland Pilots. The Coast Guard has not completed its investigation.

A case status report by both sides must be submitted to Judge Richard Bennett by Friday.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com