Harris v. Borries

Justin Allen Hill

Practice Area:Admiralty / Maritime

Outcome:Confidential Settlement

Description:Plaintiff alleged that based upon information and belief, Defendant J.E. Borries, Inc. (“Borries”) employed Mr. Harris as a diver to perform underwater dredging work under the IP Casino barge in Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi. All or nearly all of Harris’s work for Borries consisted of diving from motorized vessels whose mission was to support surface supplied air divers. Harris had a substantial connection, both in duration and nature, to the M/V TWO BIG ‘UNS and/or an identifiable fleet of vessels that supported his surface supplied air dives for Borries. On or about September 4, 2007, Harris was in the course and scope of his employment for Borries as a seaman. He was engaged in surface supplied air diving from a motorized vessel, the M/V TWO BIG ‘UNS, owned and operated by Borries. The M/V TWO BIG ‘UNS was operated by a crew hired by J.E. Borries, Inc. The crew of the M/V TWO BIG ‘UNS, including Mr. Harris, were dredging under the IP Casino barge in Mississippi state territorial waters. The M/V TWO BIG ‘UNS was located at the IP Casino barge to support and contribute to the dredging being performed under the IP Casino Barge, and the M/V TWO BIG ‘UNS was being used exclusively for the dredging job on September 4, 2007. During the dive, Harris radioed the surfaced that he was having problems with his equipment. Shortly thereafter, attempts to contact Mr. Harris were unsuccessful. The other member of the diving crew, Mark Timmons, had to wait until someone else arrived to effectuate a rescue of Mr. Harris. The wait resulted in Harris remaining under water for a significant amount of time. When Mr. Timmons reached him, he was unresponsive and not breathing. He was transported to Biloxi Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on September 9, 2007. Plaintiff sued Borries pursuant to the Jones Act and claims that the vessel was unseaworthy.