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URVASHI BHATNAGAR v. SURRENDRA OVERSEAS LTD.

October 7, 1993

URVASHI BHATNAGAR, an Infant by her Mother and Natural Guardian, KALPANA BHATNAGAR, And KALPANA BHATNAGAR, Individually
v.
SURRENDRA OVERSEAS LIMITED, APEEJAY LINES, in personam, and The M/V APJ KARAN, her engines, boilers, etc. in rem



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN KATZ

 BACKGROUND

 1. Minor Plaintiff, Urvashi Bhatnagar, was born on April 5, 1984.

 2. On November 14, 1990, plaintiff's father, Mr. Sanjay Bhatnagar, signed an Employment Contract in India with Claimant to the Res (defendant) Surrendra Overseas Limited to sail aboard the APJ KARAN as additional Chief Engineer. The contract was for a period of six (6) months.

 3. In November, 1990, Mr. Bhatnagar commenced his service aboard the vessel APJ KARAN.

 4. Surrendra Overseas Limited is and was at all relevant times the owner and operator of the vessel APJ KARAN.

 5. The vessel APJ KARAN trades in international commerce and at all relevant times called at various ports in the world including the United States.

 6. Surrendra Overseas Limited is an Indian shipping company which owns and operates eight (8) ships which trade in international commerce and some or all of which have called during all relevant times at ports in the United States.

 7. The APJ KARAN has made a total of 27 calls to ports in the United States between 1988 and 1992, out of a total of 118 port calls during the said period.

 8. Surrendra Overseas Limited operates and manages its vessels including the APJ KARAN from and through the offices of its subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and associates in Great Britain.

 9. Mr. & Mrs. Bhatnagar as well as the minor plaintiff and her brother are citizens of India.

 10. All plaintiffs were permitted by the defendant to sail on board the APJ KARAN with Mr. Bhatnagar. Defendant assisted the plaintiffs in facilitating the arrangements to join the vessel in Portland, Oregon.

 11. In February, 1991, plaintiff Urvashi boarded the vessel M.V. APJ KARAN, together with her one and a half year old brother, Varun Mohan, and her mother, plaintiff Kalpana Bhatnagar, at the port of Portland, Oregon.

 12. From approximately February 19, 1991 through February 23, 1991, the vessel loaded a cargo of grain at Portland, Oregon destined for Alexandria, Egypt.

 13. On February 23, 1991, the vessel sailed from Portland, Oregon down the West Coast of the United States, crossing through the Panama Canal.

 14. The ship's rules and regulations designated restricted areas where unauthorized persons and children were not allowed entry. One such area was the Bridge of the ship which was off limits to all unauthorized persons, without any exceptions.

 15. On the door at the top of the stairs leading to the bridge there was a sign that stated "off limit."

 THE ACCIDENT

 16. On March 17, 1991, the ship's steward, Mr. Abdul Mutalib, took the plaintiff, Urvashi, to the bridge of the vessel.

 17. At the time in question the duty watch officer was on the bridge together with the duty helmsman. The duty watch officer's duties included enforcing the ship's rules that the Bridge of the ship was off limits to all unauthorized persons.

 18. At approximately 4:00 p.m. while the plaintiff and Mr. Mutalib were on the bridge, the helmsman picked up plaintiff Urvashi and placed her on a ledge in front of the clear view screen on the bridge.

 19. The purpose of the clear view screen is to provide a clear view for the vessel's officers and crew standing watch on the Bridge. The clear view screen keeps off rainwater. It was raining at the time of the accident and the clear view screen was turned on and revolves at a high rate of speed.

 20. The helmsman of the vessel showed the minor plaintiff how to put her hand on the clear screen a part of a "game." He feigned putting the palm of his hand on the clear screen and asked her to do likewise. When minor plaintiff placed her hand on the clear view screen, her right hand ...


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