An image of a basking shark. What is suspected to be a basking shark injured an Old Orchard Beach man who was a deckhand on a fishing boat trawling for groundfish in the Gulf of Maine in 2019 when the boat inadvertently hauled a shark onboard, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland. Credit: Creative Commons

A former deckhand on a fishing boat claims he was injured when a thrashing shark was inadvertently caught in the boat’s net and brought onboard.

The deckhand, Mark Emerton of Old Orchard Beach, has sued the boat’s owner in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Emerton, 54, was working on the Perseus on Aug. 27, 2019, which was trawling for groundfish in the Gulf of Maine, when the 15-foot shark was hauled onto the deck along with cod, haddock, hake and other species, the complaint said.

Emerton was struck in the back by the thrashing shark, thrown across the boat and knocked unconscious, said his attorney, Nicholas Walsh of Portland. The encounter left Emerton, a lifelong fisherman, with a cervical spine injury and nerve damage in his neck, shoulder and arm. The injuries keep him from working on boats, and Emerton has limited income, Walsh said.

The lawsuit did not identify the kind of shark that was caught in the net, but Walsh said it was suspected to be a basking shark.

The former fisherman is seeking unspecified damages for past and future medical expenses, lost earning capacity and diminished future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and loss of life’s enjoyment.

The Perseus is owned by Lydia & Maya Inc., a corporation registered in Maine. It is owned by Christopher Odlin of Scarborough, according to the Maine secretary of state’s office.

An attorney has not yet entered an appearance for the boat’s owners. A Camden attorney who represented Odlin in the past did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that there were ways to safely remove the shark from the net, either by cutting a hole in it so the animal could escape or by keeping it above the surface of the water until it died.

If either of those techniques had been used, Emerton would not have been injured, according to the complaint.

“He’s been fishing since he was 14,” Walsh said of Emerton. “All he’s ever done is fishing. It’s his life.”