Widow, Latvian Shipping reach partial settlement in wrongful death suit

Both sides in a wrongful death lawsuit that seeks USD 1.58 million from Latvian Shipping Co. (Latvijas Kuģniecība) have agreed to partially dismiss the case pending an out-of-court settlement.

Attorneys for plaintiff Larisa Gerasimenko of Rīga reached agreement in late February with lawyers representing the shipping company, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She is to receive USD 89,100 as a contractual benefit for the death of her husband.

Gerasimenko sued in September 2009 claiming that Latvian Shipping was in part responsible for the death from hyperthermia of her husband, 51-year-old Vasilijs Gerasimenko, who died in August 2008 while working in the hot engine room of the oil and chemical tanker ship M/T Indra. The shipped was docked in Corpus Christi, Texas, at the time.

Also named in the lawsuit are Liberia-based Cape Wind Trading Co. and LSC Shipmanagement Ltd. Cape Wind is the registered owner of the ship and LSC Shipmanagement is the vessel’s manager, while Latvian Shipping is the group owner of the Indra.

Vasilijs Gerasimenko, an engineer, had to work in the engine room for nearly a day and a half, according to complaint. The temperature in the room reached as high as 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit).

The lawsuit claimed the defendants were negligent, careless and willfully failed to provide safe working conditions, and also did not provide any benefits for Gerasimenko’s widow nor pay for his funeral.

In an order filed Feb. 28, both sides agree that the death benefits part of the case will be dismissed once the settlement is paid. All three defendants, according to the agreement, are to be released from the contractual death benefits claim.

However, Larisa Gerasimenko still is asking for USD 976,800 in income her husband would have earned if he had continued to work for Cape Wind until retirement. In addition, the lawsuit asks for USD 200,000 in damages and more than USD 316,000 in interest.

In their response to the lawsuit, attorneys for the companies argue that the U.S. federal district court has no jurisdiction in the case, that the companies are not at fault and that Vasilijs Gerasimenko may himself have been negligent.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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