Maine man sues salmon farms over loss of fingers

A worker sets a net before harvesting salmon in a farm pen near Eastport, Oct. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

MACHIASPORT (BDN) -- A Machiasport man has sued his employer in federal court in Bangor over a workplace injury at a salmon farm that cut off two of his fingers.

Jesse Redman, 22, sued True North Salmon US Inc. and Cooke Aquaculture USA Inc. last week in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for the loss of the middle and ring fingers of his right hand. Redman claims the firms were negligent and failed to provide adequate safety equipment to employees and did not properly train them.

Redman’s attorney, Dov Sacks of Lewiston, last week described his client in an email as as “hardworking young man who loved working on the water” and “was permanently disfigured in a truly nightmarish manner.”

“He may never be able to work at sea again,” said Sacks of Berman & Simmons. “Jesse’s life will never be the same and we intend to hold the defendants accountable for their negligence and violation of federal law.”

William Devoe of Eaton Peabody in Bangor, who represents the salmon companies, said last week that he could not comment on the lawsuit because he has not seen the complaint.

Redman was working Oct. 9 to remove salmon from pens located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Washington County when the accident happened, according the complaint.

Because there was no gang plank, Redman “was forced to grip a rope which ran between the barge and the pen in order to support himself back to the barge,” the complaint alleged. The site manager, whose view of Redman was obstructed, allegedly activated a winch attached to the rope Redman was holding on to. Redman’s right hand was pulled into winch, which jammed.

Co-workers were able to cut the rope to remove Redman’s dominant hand from the winch, but the injury was severe and his middle and ring fingers had to be amputated, the complaint said. Redman suffered severe physical and emotional distress as a result of the accident.

Redman now works as a pier assistant as his injury prevents him from working as a fish harvester or going out to sea, according to Sacks.

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