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DAVID THOMAS v. GLOBAL BOAT BUILDERS & REPAIRMEN

JANUARY 08, 1986

DAVID THOMAS
v.
GLOBAL BOAT BUILDERS & REPAIRMEN, INC., & LAWRENCE E. STEELMAN & MISSISSIPPI POWER COMPANY



BEFORE PATTERSON, HAWKINS AND ROBERTSON

HAWKINS, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

David Thomas appeals from a judgment upon directed verdict in favor of the defendants in a suit against Global Boat Builders & Repairmen, Inc., Lawrence E. Steelman, the Mississippi Power Company, and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company in the circuit court of the First Judicial District of Harrison County.

The circuit judge directed a verdict in favor of the defendants because Thomas had failed to prove damages to his shrimp trawler, and that he had no cause of action against any of the defendants for emotional trauma in witnessing a worker on his boat being shocked unconscious.

 Finding the ruling correct, we affirm.

 FACTS

 On February 26, 1981, Thomas took his 60-foot shrimp trawler, the "Miss Stephanie," constructed in 1940, to Global's yard for repairs. As they agreed, Global washed and scraped her bottom, following which Thomas and a carpenter, David George, were making the repairs.

 At Thomas's suggestion, "Miss Stephanie" was raised two blocks high rather than one, both Thomas and the Vietnamese manager of Global being unmindful of the fact that in so doing they were placing a portion of "Miss Stephanie" just four inches from a naked power line.

 "Miss Stephanie" was well beyond menopause and in addition to the buffeting of age and normal use, she had suffered two accidents the previous two years which rendered her unseaworthy.

 On March 3, 1981, the wind blew, and the 13,200 volt power line connected with "Miss Stephanie." Thomas escaped injury; but George was shocked unconscious. Fortunately, he was later resuscitated.

 For the jolts of current which passed through and damaged "Miss Stephanie," Thomas sued Global, Mississippi Power Company, an officer of Global, and the insurance carrier of Global. Thomas sought actual and punitive damages, and also damages for the emotional trauma he experienced from witnessing George lying unconscious, perhaps dead.

 Thomas made no repairs to "Miss Stephanie" following March 3, 1981, but later sold her.

 Thomas brought two experts to trial to testify about what kind of damage the electrocution caused "Miss Stephanie." One of them had never seen her.

 On the issue of damages, Thomas testified the value of his boat when he took her in for repairs was $68,000, but on the objection of the defense, it was sustained. Neither Thomas nor any of his witnesses attempted to place a value on the boat following the accident. Nor, did Thomas offer any testimony as to the cost of repairs to "Miss Stephanie," and that they were reasonable and necessary as a result of the currents of electricity passing through her before the power was cut off on March 3. Clyde Leavitt, a marine engineer, did testify that her compass, other equipment and other sections of the boat were damaged as a result of the accident. His testimony was rather general.

 When Thomas rested, a patient circuit judge sustained the motions for a directed verdict, ...


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