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Brookhaven harbor master sues town over boating injuries

A Brookhaven harbor master who injured his wrist and shoulder while on duty has sued the town in federal court, alleging that a town-owned boat he used to enforce safety on the water was itself unsafe and understaffing led to his injuries.

In the lawsuit filed Sept. 8, Peter Koutrakos, 59, of Miller Place, said that while docking a SAFE [secure all-around flotation equipped] patrol boat on Oct. 7, 2013, in Port Jefferson alone, he injured his right wrist, which required surgery, but not until nearly three years later.

“The winds and waves pushed the boat away from the dock, and caused the line to jerk,” Koutrakos’ lawyer, Timothy Schweitzer of Manhattan, said in an interview. “There should have been a second crew member working on the SAFE boat.”

After his wrist injury, Koutrakos was put on modified duty, Schweitzer said. Then, on Feb. 29, Koutrakos said he hurt his left shoulder after he slipped and fell on a deck of a 32-foot work boat while tending to buoys.

“Nonskid surface was worn, and that contributed to the deck being slippery,” Schweitzer said.

In both incidents, Koutrakos alleged that his “muscles, nerves, tendons, blood vessels and ligaments were severely wrenched, sprained, bruised,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Koutrakos, who declined to comment, is seeking unspecified sums in damages.

Jack Krieger, a spokesman for Brookhaven, said the town does not comment on pending lawsuits.

It’s not known when Koutrakos — who has worked for the town since Jan. 31, 2000, and made $69,976.14 a year — will return to work, Krieger said.

It’s also not known how long Koutrakos has been out on paid leave.

“It is the policy of the Town not to disclose such information,” Krieger said.

Schweitzer said Koutrakos has not been working since February, and is recovering from wrist surgery in June.

“He hasn’t fully recovered from his surgery,” Schweitzer said.

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