'Deadliest Catch' Crabber Awarded $1.4 Million From Captains Johnathan And Andy Hillstrand Of The Time Bandit

A Deadliest Catch deckhand was awarded $1.4 million in a lawsuit agains the F/V Time Bandit, when his hand was seriously injured, during the filming of the popular Discovery Channel show.

Seattle PI reports that in 2013, David "Beaver" Zielinski was back to work on the F/V Time Bandit, when a Time Bandit-brand firecracker "exploded in the launcher he was holding." He was aiming the firecracker at the F/V Cape Caution, Wild Bill's boat at the time.

The injury was quite severe, as it shattered the crabber's right hand and forearm. Although he went through many reconstructive surgeries to regain the use of his hand, Beaver had to end his long career as a crab fisherman.

Captain Andy Hillstrand was commandeering the boat, yet, he admitted to the court that he was preoccupied at the time of the incident. He was watching a NFL playoff game featuring his hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks. The lawyers for Zielinski claim that the captain was negligent in this situation, and pointed out that Captain Andy asked Beaver to shoot off the firecracker at the other boat.

"Whether that failure was because he in fact wanted the fireworks to be discharged off the bow of his vessel at Cape Caution, or because he was so completely and utterly preoccupied … monitoring and relaying the fourth quarter plays of the Seattle Seahawks versus Atlanta Falcons football game does not matter. Captain Hillstrand's admitted conduct was a gross dereliction of duty."
What made this all more complicated was that the film footage from the Discovery Channel had gone missing. The lawyers for Zielinski claim that this footage would have shown Captain Andy making the order to shoot off the firecracker. They also claim that there was "a shockingly large quantity of potentially very dangerous fireworks for use by the crew." The lawyers also claim that a member of the Hillstrand family destroyed the evidence from this incident.

In addition, when the accident occurred, Captain Johnathan tried to convince the injured crabber to claim that this incident was from fishing, not from fireworks. Johnathan was talked out of this by his brother, Andy Hillstrand. Johnathan's sworn statement reveals his motivation for making this suggestion to Zielinski was only to help the deckhand.

"I suggested that perhaps we … could claim that Dave was injured by a crab pot or the pot launcher crushing his arm, instead of saying that a firework exploded in his hand. I made this suggestion because I wanted to help Dave. I wanted to make sure that Dave's medical expenses would be covered, and I thought that by stating that Dave was injured in traditional fishing activities we could make it more likely that our insurance would cover Dave's injury."
The lawyers for the Hillstrands contend that the former deckhand did suffer a serious injury, but he eventually recovered and now has a well-paying job that he is able to perform.
"Mr. Zielinski's hand was injured, he had an excellent recovery, and he is currently working fulltime as a union sheet metal worker making approximately $50 per hour."
The jury went through a week-long deliberation and eventually determined that Zielinski should be awarded $2.7 million compensation. Yet, the jury also determined that this amount should be cut in half, as Beaver was 50 percent at fault.

An appeal from both sides is expected.

The F/V Time Bandit, designed by John Hillstrand Sr., has been in the Hillstrand family for many years. The boat is called that because it sucks time from them. The Hillstand family have many Time Bandit-themed businesses, including fireworks. In recent years, Captain Andy has been working on land, managing these businesses, while Captain Johnathan has been at sea full-time.

Johnathan Hillstrand has just retired after the most recent crab season was completed. At this time, the Deadliest Catch Season 13 has documented his final season as a crab fisherman.

Recently, current and former stars of the popular Discovery Channel reality show, Deadliest Catch, have been in headlines of late. The Inquisitr reported that Captain Sig Hansen had a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly damaging an Uber car, and spitting on the driver. The incident occurred on Norwegian Constitution Day, and an inebriated Hansen, along with members of his family, took the Uber but when he discovered he could not pay cash for the fare, the incident occurred. Hansen immediately admitted "I feel terrible about it. It's embarrassing," clearly remorseful for his drunken actions.

F/V Northwestern Captain Sig Hansen has also had his share of court dates of late. [Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]
F/V Northwestern Captain Sig Hansen has also had his share of court dates of late. [Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

In the past few weeks, former Deadliest Catch star, Jake Harris, had a warrant out for his arrest. He had originally been arrested for automobile theft, and possession of crystal meth and Xanax in Phoenix in late April. He failed to show for his court date, and the judge issued the warrant. There have not been any updates since the warrant was issued.

In addition, this thirteenth season of Deadliest Catch had quite a shocker when deckhand, Nick McGlashan had made people, including his captain, Wild Bill Wichrowski, believe he had cancer, when instead he had a drug addiction.

Do you think that Captain Andy was negligent in having the crabber shoot off fireworks against the F/V Cape Caution, while he was watching the Super Bowl? Do you think that the deckhand should have received such a huge settlement when he can still work at a good paying, $50 dollar per hour job? Do you think it the $1.4 million dollar settlement awarded was because the captains are reality stars on the Deadliest Catch? Share your opinions below.

[Featured Image by John Harrelson/Getty Images]