April 8, 2013

Trial begins in Maine death of Greek port captain

The widow of the man crushed by machinery sued the operator of the Portland marine terminal.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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The dock workers, called stevedores, all worked for Sprague Energy and unloaded the ship using cranes, hoppers, trucks, front-end loaders and bulldozers.

A third party, Leopard Shipping, owned the ship, and none of its crew participated in the loading or unloading.

The accident occurred as the stevedores had partly finished unloading the salt from the ship's first hold and after a Sprague Energy foreman, Randy Bourgoin, went to get Ioannis Zagklaras, whose job it was as port captain to help shift the cable reel apparatus used by the crane crew to the second hold.

Bourgoin said he had told the crane operator via a two-way radio to move the arm, or boom, of the crane toward the rear of the ship and gave the order "hold that" or "in position" to get him to stop the crane.

Ioannis Zagklaras then retrieved the pallet jack to jack up the cable reel machinery and move it from the first cargo hold to its second cargo hold. The machinery is used to keep the crane's cables taut and control the electrical cable that powers the jaws used to scoop the rock salt.

"Before he moved it, it went in the direction of the railing," Bourgoin said. "When he shouted, 'No,' it was about an instant until he was pinned against the railing."

Bourgoin was the first one to reach Ioannis Zagklaras and used his own body as a wedge to force the machinery away from the railing to free the pinned man.

"At that point, he was able to hang onto me, and we went down on the deck," Bourgoin said.

Dr. Gene Grindlander, who was Ioannis Zagklaras' primary surgeon during his months at Maine Medical Center, said his patient survived a dangerous amputation, had multiple blood infections, suffered massive organ failure, and underwent heart surgery among other procedures before dying of a final infection.

"I would say he was in a lot of pain, but I would say that he never complained about anything. He was a very stoic man," Grindlander said. "All of the surgeries were a direct result of the injuries he sustained."

Another of Eirini Zagklaras' attorneys, Carolyn Latti, said in court papers that Sprague Energy intentionally destroyed surveillance video evidence of the Calypso N and the dock from the day of the accident.

"The Plaintiff will introduce evidence that Defendant Sprague's present counsel was at the dock investigating the accident and taking photographs the next morning, that Sprague anticipated litigation arising from Zagklaras' injury, that at the time of the decision to allow video to be destroyed Defendant Sprague was represented by counsel in connection with this claim and in anticipation of litigation," Latti said in court papers.

The jury trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge George Singal, is expected to take up to eight days.

The lawsuit was first filed by Zagklaras' widow in September 2010 in Cumberland County Superior Court. It was subsequently withdrawn from the county court and refiled in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at:


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