US govt settles seaman’s lawsuit over Japan accident


The federal court has dismissed the entire lawsuit filed by a merchant seaman against the U.S. government over the alleged injuries he suffered aboard a ship at a dock in Japan.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed with prejudice Kenneth Lockhart’s case after the parties informed the court last Tuesday that they have settled the lawsuit. This means Lockhart can no longer re-file the case.

Each party is to bear its own attorneys’ fees and court costs. The judge will retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement deal as necessary. Manglona directed the clerk to close the case.

William M. Fitzgerald and Sean E. Frink, counsel for Lockhart and the U.S. government, respectively, requested the dismissal of the case after informing the court about their settlement. The parties said they would provide the court a copy of the settlement deal.

The settlement deal had yet to be filed in court as of press time yesterday.

Last July, Manglona granted the request by the parties to issue an order that protects confidentiality of confidential information in connection with the lawsuit.

Manglona agreed that a protective order is appropriate as the parties anticipate that they will be exchanging confidential personal and medical records.

The parties also anticipate having potential records which should be protected due to the incidents complained of involving of a U.S. naval vessel and personnel.

Lockhart, an American who is a resident of Saipan, alleged in his lawsuit that he suffered when a loaded palate tilted and pinned him against the railings aboard a ship at a dock in Japan in 2016.

Lockhart said the U.S. owned the vessel USNS Montford Point, which was operated and managed by Ocean Shipholdings Inc.

Lockhart sued the U.S. for negligence under the Jones Act, for unseaworthiness, and failure to maintain and cure the vessel.

Lockhart demanded damages, medical expenses, loss of earnings, and court costs.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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