United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
BLOCK ISLAND FISHING, INC.
Block Island Fishing, Inc., Plaintiff: Thomas J Muzyka, Kirby
L. Aarsheim, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Clinton & Muzyka, P.C.,
Jamie Rogers, Defendant: David F. Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEY,
Latti & Anderson LLP, Boston, MA.
Jamie Rogers, Counter Claimant: David F. Anderson, LEAD
ATTORNEY, Latti & Anderson LLP, Boston, MA.
Block Island Fishing, Inc., Counter Defendant: Thomas J
Muzyka, Kirby L. Aarsheim, LEAD ATTORNEY, Clinton &
Muzyka, P.C., Boston, MA.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
G. Stearns, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Island Fishing, Inc., owns and operates the fishing vessel
Hedy Brenna. Jamie Rogers is a commercial fisherman
and former employee of Block Island who was injured while
working on board the Hedy Brenna in October of 2013.
This dispute is over an admiralty doctrine known as "
maintenance and cure." Maintenance and cure is "
designed to provide a seaman with food and lodging when he
becomes sick or injured in the ship's service; and it
extends during the period when he is incapacitated to do a
seaman's work and continues until he reaches maximum
medical recovery." Vaughan v. Atkinson, 369
U.S. 527, 531, 82 S.Ct. 997, 8 L.Ed.2d 88 (1962).
essential facts, viewed in the light most plausible to Rogers
as the nonmoving party, are as follows.
August of 2013, Rogers moved with his wife, two children, and
brother-in-law into a single-family home in Bristol, Rhode
Island. Rogers paid the first month's rent of $1,600, but
cannot recall making subsequent payments. In September of
2013, Rogers joined the crew of the Hedy Brenna. On
October 3, 2013, during a fishing voyage, Rogers fell off the
top bunk while sleeping and injured his torso. On returning
to port, Rogers was diagnosed and treated for a fractured
rib. During October, Block Island paid Rogers $650 in
maintenance and $1,857.78 in lost wages (in addition to his
catch share from the October voyage).
November, Rogers was evicted from the Bristol apartment and
moved with his family to a less expensive apartment in Fall
River, Massachusetts, where he paid $625 in monthly rent. On
November 4, 2013, Dr. Christian Campos, Rogers's treating
physician, cleared Rogers to " return to work without
restrictions." Dkt. # 44-6. However, in December of
2013, Rogers was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to
hospital for three weeks. On February 20, 2014, Dr. Campos
reported that Rogers's condition was improving, and while
he still required the use of pain medication, he could
increase his level of physical activity " without
restrictions." Dkt. # 44-13. In March of 2014, Rogers
left the Fall River apartment and moved to Sparta, Tennessee,
where he lived with his brother, to whom he paid $800 each
month in lieu of rent.
or June of 2014, Rogers purchased a 38-foot boat for $2,500,
on which he lived briefly before returning in June to Fall
River. On June 19, 2014, Rogers was examined by Dr. Melanie
Cardoza for pain in his lower back and left leg. Rogers
reported that he had returned from a fishing trip the
previous day, and that he was planning another fishing trip
the following day. By July of 2014, Rogers was captaining the
fishing vessel Kelly Ann. However, in August of
2014, Dr. Campos examined Rogers and provided him with a
letter indicating that he was not yet fit to return to work
as a fisherman. On November 18, 2014, Dr. Campos examined
Rogers and concluded that his condition had improved to the
point that no " further formal follow-up" was
necessary. Dkt. # 44-37.
dispute over maintenance and cure involves nine months of
back and forth correspondence between Neil Stoddard, an agent
for Block Island, and Daniel Alberto, a paralegal at Latti
& Anderson, the firm representing Rogers. The sticking
point was Rogers's claimed expenditures for rent. On
January 24, 2014, Alberto made a demand on Rogers's
behalf of maintenance and cure in the amount of $72 per day,
listing Rogers's monthly expenses as $1,600 for rent,
$119.25 for gas, $61.28 for electricity, and $362.50 for
food. In the exchange that followed, Stoddard objected that
the " cash receipts" he had been provided "
have nothing on them to identify them as a rent payment and I
find it hard to believe that there is no sort of written
agreement between your client and his landlord." Dkt. #
44-14. On March 27, 2014, Alberto mailed Stoddard a copy of
the lease of the Bristol apartment. When Stoddard further
objected after learning that Rogers had moved from Bristol to
Fall River, Alberto replied ...