Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Former ferry watchman sues over his injuries

JUNEAU - A former watchman on the Malaspina filed suit against the Alaska Marine Highway this week claiming the system's negligence led to a debilitating knee injury.

Thomas Guthrie alleges that on June 23, 2001, he suffered injuries by tripping over a sleeping passenger at the time clock.

He is represented by Seattle attorney Eric Dickman of Seattle, who wrote that the position of the sleeping passenger created unsafe conditions for people to work.

He is demanding a jury trial to seek unspecified damages for the injuries as well as damages he alleges Guthrie is entitled to under maritime law.

Nona Wilson, special assistant to the commissioner for the Alaska Marine Highway, said staff did not yet know anything about the suit and could not comment.

On the subject of sleeping passengers, she said passengers are allowed to sleep in public space. She did not know where the employees' time clock was located on the Malaspina.

Dickman wrote that in addition to medical expenses and past and future lost wages, he is seeking the cost of room and board that he claims Guthrie is entitled to under general maritime law, up until his maximum medical recovery.

In addition to the debilitating knee injury, Guthrie suffered less serious injuries to his head, right hip, right arm and back, Dickman wrote.

Mold discovery shuts down Yakutat school

YAKUTAT - People have lived with the leaking roof over the elementary-school classrooms here for a couple of years, but the superintendent said the building had to be shut down with the recent discovery of mold.

"Very colorful mold," John Novak said, "and a lot more than we expected."

Drying mold in the walls would be an airborne health hazard, he said.

Novak said grade-school classes were moved to the high school last week. There are high-school classes held in the auditorium, and one small modular building is in use.

He said patches has been done on the roof. A Juneau contractor estimated that the roof could cost $75,000 to fix, "but that doesn't fix the inside," he added.

Even if the problem were covered by insurance, he said, paying the deductible would be a problem.

The community 225 miles northwest of Juneau has a population of less than 700.

It is too small to raise the money through bonds, he said. Paying for repairs would require legislative assistance. Novak said if the community had the money to spend on repairs, other uses might seem more important.

"It's not bad having the elementary and high school in one building," he said.

Enrollment has declined by about 50 students in the last two years, bringing it to 122, he said.

The entire kindergarten-through-12th-grade Yakutat School could serve about 250 students, he added.

Breast exams temporarily unavailable at Bartlett

JUNEAU - Mammograms will not be available at Bartlett Regional Hospital for two to three weeks due to equipment failure, hospital officials said Monday.

The 6-year-old mammogram processor that failed was scheduled for replacement this fall.

Without a processor, exposed mammogram films cannot be developed for diagnostic reading.

Officials have ordered replacement equipment and will be offering mammograms once it is installed.

Appointments for that time period will be rescheduled.

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