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Lack of Medical Care Cost Company $1.3 Million

A U.S. District Court jury in Manhattan has awarded the chief engineer of a liquefied natural gas carrier $1.3 million in damages for denial of medical treatment after he became gravely ill while at sea.

Chief Engineer David Carmody, who had no history of serious medical problems, became sick aboard the 970-foot Gemini in August 2000.

The tanker, operated by Pronav Ship Management of Greenwich, Connecticut, was making its last voyage before reflagging. When the chief told the captain and the mate that he felt something was wrong, they suggested that he rest in his quarters while the ship proceeded to Indonesia. The mate took Carmody's vital signs, but his condition continued to deteriorate. He was not able to drink water and became unconscious.

Three days after he reported feeling ill, Carmody was finally taken ashore in Botang, Indonesia, where he was diagnosed as having suffered from organ failure and severe dehydration. He was then flown to Thailand and treated at St. Mary's Hospital in Singapore, where he remained in a diabetic coma for almost a month. Carmody was then flown home to the United States and spent three weeks rehabilitating in the hospital.

According to Carmody's attorney Michael Savasuk, the company's operation manual clearly spells out procedures for dealing with cases of severe illness--- most importantly to call for help. Savasuk said that neither the captain nor the mate made any attempt to call for help. Their failure to seek help for Carmody violated the company operations manual and jeopardized Carmody's life, Savasuk said.

Eric Linsner, senior vice president of Pronav Ship Management, refused to comment on the case.

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