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Port of Bellingham ordered to pay $16M to injured ferry worker

A federal jury has ordered the Port of Bellingham to pay just over $16 million in damages to an employee who was injured while operating a faulty passenger-loading ramp at the Bellingham Port’s cruise terminal in 2012. Shannon Adamson suffered life-threatening injuries when the passenger gangway ramp fell nearly 20 feet while she was adjusting it from a control panel. Adamson suffered multiple fractures, two punctured lungs, a lacerated liver and head injury.

After deliberating for five hours, an eight-member jury returned the verdict after a nine-day trial before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman.

The jury found the port negligent for failing to fix a control panel that operated the passenger gangway ramp. Evidence showed that the port knew the panel was faulty and similar accidents had occurred in 2008.

After a 2008 incident, a Seattle engineering firm wrote a report outlining the problems with the control panel and suggesting it be fixed. The port largely ignored the report. Adamson’s attorney states “this is not a case where the port made a judgement call and made a mistake. This is a case where a defendant purposefully chose to subject its own employees […] to a serious risk of injury of death. This conduct can only be characterized as reckless, callous, and a willful and wanton disregard.”

Ultimately, the jury awarded Adamson a total of $16,007,102 for lost past income, lost future income, compensation for past and future pain and suffering, and medical bills.

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