Leith docks ship collapse survivor launches £7m law suit after suffering life changing injuries

A crew member who suffered "life-altering injuries" when a US Navy ship toppled over while in dry dock in Edinburgh has lodged a $10 million claim - or £7.8million - for damages.

Magin Luis Caballero is suing the US government over the major incident which saw research vessel RV Petrel tipped at a 45-degree angle in strong winds at Imperial dock in Leith on 22 March 2023.

More than 30 people were hurt in the incident with some of them sustaining life-changing injuries.

Mr Caballero, from Houston, Texas, worked as an assistant cook on the ship for US Navy contractor Oceaneering International.

He claims he was thrown across the kitchen when the ship became dislodged from its holdings, which caused his body to smash into a table.

His lawyers say he has been unable to return to work and continues to need "serious, ongoing medical care."

They claim the US government were negligent and failed to provide a safe working environment for Mr Caballero.

Emergency services raced to Imperial Dock in Leith last year
Emergency services raced to Imperial Dock in Leith last year -Credit:PA

He is seeking $10 million for "mental anguish, pain and suffering, physical impairment and disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, past and future medical expenses, maintenance and cure, attorney's fees and loss of earnings."

His legal claim was lodged at US District Court in Texas but a judge ruled earlier this month the case should be heard in Florida where the RV Petrel is currently docked.

The lawsuit states: "On March 22, 2023, the Vessel was secured in a drydock in Leith, Edinburgh. But Defendant's agents and/or servants failed to properly secure the Vessel in drydock.

The 250ft ship owned by the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen toppled onto its side in Edinburgh today
The vessel is used to find sunken wrecks.

"Around 8.35am, strong winds dislodged the Vessel from its holding, causing the Vessel to topple over.

"Mr Caballero was working in the galley. He was literally thrown across the galley when the Vessel dislodged from its holding, causing his body to smash into a table.

"He suffered serious, life-altering injuries. He was transported to the hospital.

"Mr Caballero was transported back to the United States weeks later. He has been unable to return to work. He continues to need serious, ongoing medical care.

The 250ft ship is owned by the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen
The 250ft ship is owned by the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

"Nothing Mr Caballero did or failed to do on the occasion in question caused or in any way contributed to cause his injuries. To the contrary, these events were caused by the negligence of the Defendant or its agents and servants.

"Defendant had a non-delegable duty to provide Mr. Caballero with a reasonably safe place to work and a Vessel, crew, and equipment fit for its intended use. Defendant, directly or through its agents or servants, failed in that regard."

RV Petrel - which measures 250ft and weighs over 3,000 tonnes - had been moored at the Leith dockyard since 3 September 2020 due to "operational challenges" from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vessel was previously owned by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

It had been used for deep water searches for shipwrecks and war graves at sea, including the lost World War Two heavy cruiser USS

Indianapolis, which was discovered 18,000 feet beneath the surface.

A joint investigation into the incident between the Health and Safety Executive and Police Scotland is ongoing.

At the time, NHS Lothian said 23 people were treated in hospital and 12 at the scene of the incident.

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