UK: Company sued for severe worker injuries in ship-breaking yard in Bangladesh following vessel sale

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6 December 2017

Surge in number of accidents in Bangladesh shipbreaking yards

Author: NGO Shipbreaking Platform

...[T]he accident rate for the three first quarters of 2017 [in the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong, Bangaldesh] has surged with 8 injuries and 6 deaths recorded in ten separate incidents in the last two months alone...

...Ship owners that sell their ships for dirty and dangerous breaking are now also being brought to court...[Mohamed Edris' case against Zodiac Maritime] is the first time that an injured worker demands compensation from a ship owner directly...

...Zodiac has continued to sell its ships to Bangladesh, despite the pending legal case against them, demonstrating that they have no consideration for causing harm as a result of their dirty business. 

[Also refers to Berge Bulk, Costamare, GPH Ispat, Greek Polys Haji-Ioannou Group, Petrobas, Sheema Automatic Re Rolling Mills, Teekay]

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4 December 2017

Legal action against London-based shipping company following life-changing injuries

Author: Leigh Day

UK law firm Leigh Day is taking legal action on behalf of a...Bangladeshi man [Mohamed Edris] who lost a leg and some of the sight in one eye whilst dismantling a ship on behalf of Zodiac Maritime, a London-based shipping company...

...According to lawyers at Leigh Day, Zodiac...should have known how dangerous the Chittagong breaking yards were when the vessel was sold for scrap to Rayna Investments, a “cash buyer” or middle man.

The legal case could see British, American and European shipowners and managers being made liable for the many deaths and accidents that take place every year in Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani shipbreaking yards...

 ...Leigh Day maintain that Zodiac knew the methods involved in dismantling vessels in Chittagong, yet it sold the Eurus London [ship] on...the full knowledge that it would be broken up in unsafe conditions...[A senior partner at Leigh Day,] said: “Mr Edris’ case is that they had a duty not to sell vessels to Bangladesh shipyards via their contractors or cash buyers. Zodiac sold it to a cash buyer in the knowledge it would be dismantled in unsafe conditions.”

...The shipbreaking yards on Asian beaches are an attractive solution to owners of large ships who can earn up to almost £3 million extra per ship by selling to the yards via cash buyers rather than using recycling yards which have higher standards...

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2 December 2017

‘This is the world’s cheapest place to scrap ships’ – but in Chittagong, it’s people who pay the price

Author: John Vidal, Guardian (UK)

Mohamed Edris...[was]...working...on the...Eurus London [ship] at the Ferdous Steel Corporation shipyard in Chittagong... The propeller broke free...It sliced off his left leg below the knee, blinded him in one eye and nearly broke his back.

The yard paid for his hospital treatment, gave him 125,000 Bangladeshi taka (£1,142) compensation and 460 Bdt (£4.32) a week for nine months...[I]n a legal test case Zodiac Maritime, the London-based shipping company that managed the Eurus London until it was sold for scrap, could be held responsible...

...“Shipowners shield themselves from responsibility through the use of cash buyers...[who] sell off the ships for the highest price offered,” says [the] director of Shipbreaking Platform...

...In a statement to the Observer, Zodiac said the accident occurred four months after the ship had been sold to a third-party buyer...[I]t said: “We deny any liability for the injuries suffered by Mr Edris and we dispute the claim.”

It added: “The yard where Mr Edris was employed was not Zodiac’s contractor and Zodiac did not select the yard used to dismantle the vessel. Zodiac has no control over the working practices at shipbreaking yards. The claim seeks to extend the law of negligence beyond any recognised boundaries. It is the law of Bangladesh which applies to this case”...

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