capacity, and Wheeling-Pittsburgh in its stevedoring capacity were concurrently negligent in causing plaintiff's injuries.
Damages sustained by Griffith as a proximate result of defendants' negligence are quite extensive. When the accident occurred, plaintiff landed at the bottom of the barge's hold on his right leg, then toppled onto his left leg. He fell on his right wrist and over onto his back. Medical testimony of record substantiates plaintiff's claim for past and future medical expenses in the amount of $11,672.65.
A second component of plaintiff's damages is past and future wage loss. Plaintiff's wage losses are calculated at a rate of $800.00 per month, the amount which plaintiff was earning in 1973 for Wheeling-Pittsburgh. This Court finds total past wages and future lost wages, reduced to present worth at 6%, supported by evidence of record, to be $42,626.80.
The total figure of $54,299.45 for medical expenses and lost earnings is largely uncontested as to reasonableness. Rather, defendants have chosen to marshal their forces in opposition to liability and the following two additional areas of claimed compensable damages.
The first area is plaintiff's claim for impairment of earning capacity. Defendants are required to compensate plaintiff for any lessened ability to earn money in the future as a result of the injuries sustained. It is not the status of the immediate present which determines capacity for remunerative employment. Where permanent injury is involved, the whole span of life must be considered. It must be determined whether or not the economic horizon of the plaintiff has been shortened because of the injuries sustained as a result of defendants' negligence.
Evidence of record indicates that plaintiff will never again be able to perform work requiring heavy labor. He is also unable to pursue any occupation which would require standing for long periods of time or extensive movement such as walking. Thus, although Griffith can still perform effectively in many useful careers such as teaching, there are also many tasks which plaintiff is permanently foreclosed from pursuing.
Bearing in mind that plaintiff's life expectancy is approximately 41 years, this Court believes that the sum of $80,000 adequately and fully compensates him for the considerable reduction in future employment opportunities caused by his severely restricted mobility and dexterity.
Lastly, plaintiff seeks to recover damages for past and future pain, suffering and inconvenience. Following the accident, Griffith suffered from severe pain in the right leg, back, wrist and heel. When he left the hospital, plaintiff had long casts on both legs and his right arm, and was completely bedfast. From May, 1973, to September, 1973, Griffith was confined completely to a stretcher, and was not permitted to ambulate. From September until November 20, 1973, plaintiff moved about only on platform crutches; in November, 1973, he was permitted to change to a cane, and he has been required to walk with a cane ever since. At the present time, plaintiff continues to be affected by injuries of the right wrist, left heel, spine, chest, right ankle and right leg. As a result of the aforementioned physical restrictions, plaintiff has now also been forced to limit both family and recreational activities. With due regard for plaintiff's 41-year life expectancy and the disabling injuries previously detailed, this Court believes an award of $75,000 to be appropriate for pain, suffering and inconvenience.
In total, plaintiff is entitled to compensatory damages in the amount of $209,299.45. It remains to be considered, however, whether or not the equitable credit doctrine should be applied to the damage award.
EQUITABLE CREDIT DOCTRINE
Under the Equitable Credit Doctrine, damages are apportioned among the parties according to the extent of each one's fault. The Court calculates the award by assessing a prorated share of the damages against each party. The parties which would be considered in the case sub judice are:
1. Wheeling-Pittsburgh as owner pro hac vice ;
2. Wheeling-Pittsburgh as stevedore;