Delaware Dredging Accident: Settlement Reached

The 4-year-old daughter of a crane operator who was tragically killed in a December 2014 dredging accident will be taken care of for the rest of her life as a result of attorney Matthew Shaffer’s negotiation of a $2.5 million dollar settlement in a mere 60 days.

The single father from Newport News, Va., was working for Norfolk Dredging aboard a crane barge in Delaware when the barge capsized on December 2 and 3 crew members were thrown into the Christina River. Two other workers were rescued immediately, but the single father remained trapped in the crane operating station and drowned. His body was recovered nearly 24 hours later.

The Norfolk Dredging crew was performing routine dredging operations in the Port of Wilmington in Delaware,Shaffer said. “When the dredge barge is being moved, the standing order is for the cutting dredge to cease cutting operations. Due to miscommunications and a failure to follow proper procedure in this occasion, the crane operator was pulling up the anchors when the cutting apparatus started, which caused the crane barge to flip over. He was trapped in the crane and couldn’t escape.”

Attorney Shaffer, managing partner of the maritime law firm Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, filed a claim against the worker’s employer, Norfolk Dredging, under the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act.

Of the $2.5 million settlement, the majority of the funds will go into a trust to provide financial security for the future of the 4-year old daughter left behind by the worker’s untimely death, Shaffer said.