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August 16, 1985


The opinion of the court was delivered by: VANARTSDALEN



 1. Default judgment was entered against the defendant, Navigazione San Paolo, S.P.A., Medafrica Line, on the issue of liability on July 29, 1985. By stipulation of counsel for plaintiff and counsel for the defendant, Alcoa Maritime Co., Ltd., the claims against Alcoa Maritime Co., Ltd. were severed from the claims against Navigazione San Paolo, S.P.A., Medafrica Line, for purposes of trial. The case proceeded to trial on the issue of damages against Navigazione San Paolo, S.P.A., Medafrica Line on August 15, 1985. Plaintiff waived the demand for a jury trial, and the trial was held non-jury.

 2. Plaintiff was injured on March 19, 1981, while working as a longshoreman aboard the M/V Hektor, a vessel under time charter to defendant, Navigazione San Paolo, S.P.A. Medafrica Lines. he was injured while engaged in discharging bags of cocoa beans from the vessel's No. 1 hold when he tripped and fell over dunnage in the hold and landed on his back across dunnage boards on the deck of the hold.

 3. After the fall on March 19, 1981, plaintiff was unable to complete his work shift. He came under the care of his family physician, Dr. Jacob S. Weiner, on March 20, 1981. X-rays taken on March 23, 1981 revealed transitional vertebrae at the lumbosacral junction with bilateral spondylolysis and narrowing of intervertebral disc space. Although the conditions noted from the X-ray examination pre-dated the accident of March 19, 1981, and were congenital in nature, the condition was completely asymptomatic and caused plaintiff no discomfort or disability prior to the fall on March 19, 1981. As a direct result of the fall, the condition of plaintiff's low back became symptomatic and brought about a period of total disability and thereafter a permanent partial disability. As a direct result of the fall, plaintiff was unable to return to work from march 19, 1981 through October 14, 1982.

 4. Dr. Weiner referred plaintiff to Dr. Richard Rothman for further care and evaluation. On June 15, 1981, Dr. Rothman recommended a lumbar laminectomy and fusion from L-5 to the sacrum, the alternative being acceptance of his present symptoms and a sedentary life-style.

 5. Following additional extensive conservative treatment, plaintiff was admitted to the Pennsylvania Hospital on January 31, 1982 and underwent the recommended surgery on February 3, 1982, consisting of an L-6-S-1 bilateral lateral fusion with a bone graft from the hip. An electrical stimulator was implanted to hasten fusion. Post-operative recovery was uneventful and he was discharged from the hospital on February 13, 1982.

 6. Plaintiff returned to work as a longshoreman on October 14, 1982. He again lost work from May 16, 1983 through May 30, 1983 when he returned to the hospital for surgical removal of the electrical stimulator. Subsequent to May 30, 1983, plaintiff has been regularly employed as a longshoreman.

 7. Plaintiff has, since the happening of the accident, undergone extensive physical pain and disability. He continues to the present to have pain and weakness in his back, and his lower back is still from the surgical procedure as well as intermittently from heavy lifting. He no longer engages in strenuous physical sports. He is, except for the injury, a healthy 29 year old man, who prior to the fall was active in sports, having played baseball and football in high school. His present disabilities and the intermittent pain that he suffers will continue into the future throughout his life, with minor lessening of symptoms as time progresses.

 8. Dr. Klinghoffer examined the plaintiff on September 13, 1983, and opined that plaintiff had a permanent partial disability rating equivalent to the loss of use of approximately 15 to 20 percent of the body as a whole.

 9. Plaintiff's necessary and reasonable medical and surgical expenses total $13,184.45.

 10. Under the provisions of the applicable labor contracts in effect for longshoremen in the Port of Philadelphia, the "straight time" wages for handling general cargo (general cargo being the lowest wage rate) at the time plaintiff was injured was $11.60 per hour. The rate increased to $12.80 on September 30, 1981 and to $14.00 on September 30, 1983. Also, under the labor contracts, plaintiff qualified for a guarantee of 1,900 hours of work per year. His total wage loss, without calculating any overtime, fringe benefits, or above minimum wage cargo handling for the period of initial disability from March 19, 1981 until October 14, 1982 plus the period from May 16, 1983 through May 30, 1983, is $38,776, based on an annual work year of 1,900 hours. 11. Plaintiff is entitled to the following damages: (a) Medical Expenses 13,184.45 (b) Lost wages 38,776.00 (c) Pain and suffering 110,000.00 ?TOTAL $ 161,960.45


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