John Perconti of the Chicago Injury Law Firm Levin & Perconti and David K. Kremin of David K. Kremin & Associates (Chicago) settled a case for $4.5 million through mediation before the Honorable Donald P. O’Connell on behalf of James Talbot against Material Service Corporation (Lyons, Illinois) for their failure to provide a safe workplace. Perconti sued James’ employer under the Jones Act, a federal law that allows deckhands and crewmen on boats and barges to recover damages from their employers for injuries sustained on the job. As a result, James’ right leg was crushed between two barges and his right leg had to be amputated above the knee in order to save his life.
When twenty-four-year old James Talbot learned that there was a job opening at Material Service Corporation (MSC), he was excited about the prospect of earning his living on a commercial vessel on the river. James’ new job with MSC involved him working on towboats and barges on the Chicago River System to deliver aggregates (stone, sand, and gravel) for use in commercial and residential building construction. James knew that this would be hard work but was anxious to be trained in his new vocation.
On the day of the accident, September 18, 2004 at 1:00 a.m., James was still an inexperienced deck hand in training. He was assigned to work on board a towboat called ‘Alfred Hagerty” which was attached to the bow of an empty barge at the Ozinga facility on the South branch of the Chicago River. James was assigned to couple an empty barge (the 9301) which was already in tow, with an empty barge (the 9903) at a facility known as Prairie Material 32 in the River North area.