June 22, 2018
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Greek widow settles wrongful-death lawsuit 2½ days after trial begins

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — A jury trial in U.S. District Court ended Wednesday 2½ days after it began when a settlement was reached between the widow of a Greek port captain and the dock company she claimed was responsible for her husband’s death four years ago.

U.S. District Judge George Singal dismissed the jury of six men and two women after being informed of the settlement in a conference with attorneys, according to information filed on federal court’s electronic case filing system.

Details of the settlement were not available online, and the transcript of the conference in the judge’s chambers was sealed.

The trial, which began Monday, had been scheduled to last eight days.

Ioannis Zagklara, 67, of Athens, Greece, died March 13, 2009, on the operating table at Maine Medical Center, according to trial briefs filed last month. He suffered a massive, crushing injury on Oct. 6, 2008, while offloading rock salt from the bulk carrier Calypso N at the Merrill Marine Terminal in Portland. The captain underwent more than 22 operations or procedures, including the amputation of a leg at the hip joint, according to court documents.

His widow, Eirini Zagklara of Athens, Greece, sued Sprague Energy Corp., which owns the dock, in September 2010 in Cumberland County Superior Court. The following month, Sprague Energy had the case moved to federal court in Portland.

She sought more than $1.2 million in medical expenses, lost future earnings of $202,000, funeral expenses of $16,000 and unspecified punitive damages. Her attorneys claimed that the accident was caused by the crane operator hired by Sprague Energy.

Sprague Energy, based in Portsmouth, N.H., in turn sued Amanda Shipping Co., the Greek firm that employed Capt. Zagklara, and the ship’s owners, Leopard Shipping Co. Ltd. and Nomoikos Transworld Maritime Agencies S.A., both of Greece. Sprague claimed in its trial brief that Zagklara was pinned against the rail of the vessel when he lost control of a power reel box while trying to move it.

The shipping firms claimed they were not liable for damages under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.

Boston Attorney Carolyn M. Latti, who represents the widow, declined Thursday afternoon to details of the settlement. Sprague Energy’s attorney, Michael X. Savasuk of Portland, said the settlement did not total the amount of Zagklara’s medical bills.

Both lawyers said the settlement included the third-party defendants.

“The whole purpose of the lawsuit was to find out what happened,” Latti said. “He did not remember what happened that night. Through this litigation, his family was able to get information about what did occur and what may have occurred on that night.”

Latti said it was unusual but not unheard of for a settlement to be reached after a federal jury trial had begun.

“There was great sympathy in courtroom for Mr. Zagklara and his family,” Savasuk said Thursday. “If his equipment had been in better shape, the accident might not have happened.”

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