A federal court has awarded a multimillion-dollar judgment to the family of a tugboat deck hand who was killed in a capstan related accident on New Jersey’s Hackensack River in 2009.

The company had argued that Young caused his own death because he pushed the wrong button on the capstan control and became trapped in the capstan as it spun in reverse instead of forward. After hearing evidence in a 2013 civil trial, however, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet concluded that the cause of the fatality was negligence during an unsafe swing maneuver in which the mate turned the vessel before confirming that the capstan and towline were secure.

Here is a picture of a tug boat

The judge in November ruled that the mate at the tug’s controls caused the accident, and Moran had failed to establish policies for a swing maneuver even though the company knew that such a maneuver is dangerous. Moran, based in New Canaan, Conn., said it may appeal the court’s decision.


Featured Expert

Bartley J. Eckhardt, P.E.
Ruhi Arslanoglu, Ph.D.

Bart is President/CEO of Robson Forensic, Inc. and also heads its Marine-Industrial-Specialty Practice Group and Ruhi is a Biomedical expert. Bart was retained as a primary liability expert in this Federal Admiralty matter. The purpose of his investigation was to reconstruct the fatal injury incident and to determine the cause or contributing factors to Young’s fatal injury. Bart’s reconstruction of the incident revealed that the towline pulled off the capstan, and disproved Moran’s theory that Young caused his own death.

Ruhi Arslanoglu, was able to link Bart’s reconstruction with the injuries sustained by Young to further disprove Moran’s theory, while supporting medical testimony that Young was conscious for at least two minutes while his body was being crushed to death. Bart was qualified by the court as an expert in maritime engineering and accident reconstruction. Ruhi was qualified by the court as an expert in the field of biomechanical engineering.

Bart holds a B.E. in Marine Engineering, held advanced Merchant Marine licenses, and had sea time as Chief Engineer on an ocean-going tug. He was a co-author of the U.S. Navy Towing Manual, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in more than 20 states.

Ruhi holds degrees in Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering as well as having a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. He is also an EMT and SCUBA Divemaster. He regularly analyzes injury causation.

SOURCE Robson Forensic, Inc.