This is some sad news - and any death is - but if there's one thing that can come out of this it's that the family of Vinh Phan at least got some sort of justice -- albeit a monetary settlement isn't what I'd exactly call justice.
Vinh Phan will never again walk through the front door of the Olympia home he shares with his parents.
He died on June 3, 2007, in Alaska while working aboard the F/T Enterprise, a factory trawler. According to a U.S. Coast Guard report, he was hosing fish out of a holding tank when a hydraulic door was activated, crushing his head. His parents and four siblings agreed that there was only one thing they had to do: tell their story to a judge.
“We strongly believe that the American judicial system is meant to bring out the truths and through the truths that justice and fairness shall prevail,” explained Ken Phan, Vinh’s younger brother.
“[A lawsuit was] their only recourse, and of course, it’s no substitute for their son, but it was the one thing they could do to honor him,” said Corrie Yackulic, the family’s lawyer.
In February 2009, Ken Phan, their second oldest son, served as a personal representative of his deceased brother’s estate and filed a civil lawsuit against O’Hara Corporation, owner and operator of the F/T Enterprise.
On Sept. 21, the company admitted liability, and King County Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez ruled in favor of Phan’s parents. “Bang Phan and Tron Bui are proper statutory beneficiaries under the Death on the High Seas Act … in the amount of $522,362.50,” wrote Gonzalez, in his final statement.