33-year-old Lia Hawkins fell to her heath on October 21, 2010. As part of a renovation crew on board M/V SAHARA, moored in Ballard, Washington, part of Lia Hawkins job was to tear out interior walls and dump the refuse over the side into a waste container located far below. While there were no witnesses and some time elapsed before she was noticed missing, all indications are that she was working at carrying heavy scrap metal to the side when she went through a gap in a deck railing, falling four decks into the water. According to the medical report, Ms. Hawkins suffered a skull fracture and drowned. She had no heirs, but left behind her parents and other relatives.
Her parents sued G Shipping for wrongful death, citing the unsafe conditions under which their daughter worked. Not only was the railing unsafe, but another employee stated that how things were laid out on deck could cause a loss of balance while carrying a heavy load. There were little or no safety measures in place on board and there was no one appointed in charge of safety.
A federal court jury has just awarded Ms. Hawkins’ family $3.45 million for wrongful death in finding G Shipping negligent in furnishing a safe work environment.