Drama and all types of issues aren’t in shortage when it comes to “Deadliest Catch”. Whether these issues are about the personal problems between the cast, the dangers of life on the high seas, or the cast’s legal or health issues, there’s no way to get bored with all the trouble steaming off “Deadliest Catch”.
One of the most recent problems coming out of the show has to do with Nick Mavar Jr, a former deckhand from the Northwestern, who is seeking $1 million in damages from the boat’s owners.
So what is this issue really about, and has the Northwestern faced other legal battles in the past? Stay here to know all about this new chapter in the “Deadliest Catch” long list of in-court controversies.
What Is The Lawsuit About?
It’s not rare for legal issues to surface in “Deadliest Catch” from time to time, but a lawsuit is rarely filed by not one but two stars of a show at the same time. This describes the legal battle which has been going on with the show lately, as in December 2022 a former star of “Deadliest Catch” named Nick Mavar Jr. sued Sig and June Hansen over health complications he suffered while working on their boat Northwestern.
According to Anchorage Daily News, Mavar accused the couple of having no health plan in hand when it came to medical complications during the height of the pandemic in December 2020. At the time, Mavar suffered from a burst appendix which was allegedly not promptly treated by Northwestern’s medical team, resulting in an infection and complications related to a cancer tumor later discovered in his body, also marking the end of Mavar’s years-long career as a deckhand with the boat.
As affirmed by Mavar. in his $1 million lawsuit, his complex medical condition could have been preventable if a plan to treat emergencies had been set by the boat’s owners beforehand.
What Did The Lawsuit Result In?
While Nick Mavar Jr.’s lawsuit seemed complex, that was just the start of problems for “Deadliest Catch”. As it happened, Northwestern’s Captain Sig Hansen sued the companies Original Productions and Trifecta Solutions in 2023, claiming that they were responsible for planning the health care provided on board the Northwestern during the time Mavar sustained his injuries.
As affirmed in the lawsuit, Original Productions, which is the company in charge of “Deadliest Catch”, hired a medical team and managed the contingency plans on board the Northwestern during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the crew away from people not directly involved with the show. This same medical team treated Mavar back in the day, and was cited as liable for Mavar’s health issues.
This doesn’t mean that Mavar’s lawsuit has been dropped or anything of the sort. As the lawsuit states, if the company behind Northwestern ‘were to be found liable’ in Mavar’s case, then that meant that Original Productions and Trifecta Solutions were the ones at fault for it. Also meaning they would afford the financial costs related to Mavar’s health care.
It’s still early to know what the outcome of this case will be, but let’s hope all parties will reach a satisfactory agreement.
Where Is Nick Now?
Before going through all of the health issues which took him away from the Northwestern, Nick Mavar Jr. was an accomplished fisherman who became known by “Deadliest Catch” audiences for his on-screen appearances. He’s credited as a deckhand in the Northwestern as early as 2005, subsequently appearing in several of the show’s following seasons until his departure in 2021.
While it’s unclear how long Nick worked for the Hansen family on board the Northwestern, his Croatian family was involved with fishing for generations, and owned the boat Miss Colleen, which roamed the Bristol Bay’s waters in the summers to catch salmon.
Nick himself began fishing in 1976 and is the uncle of the Saga’s Captain Jake Anderson, making their family’s connection with crab fishing run deep.
Even though Nick’s official website was taken down, and his public Facebook page has remained inactive for a while, a quick look into his slightly-more active Instagram profile lets us see that he married in 2021 and often goes out on trips with his family. Regarding the whereabouts of Miss Colleen, the boat appears to be active these days but now fishes under the Honduran flag, making it hard to discern whether it still belongs to Nick’s family.
Although it’s unclear whether Nick is still into fishing these days, he seems to be doing well, regardless of the legal and health issues he has had in the last couple of years.
Similar Lawsuits In The Show
While Nick Mavar Jr’s case against the Northwestern is quite worrying, it isn’t the first time that a damage lawsuit over injuries sustained on board a “Deadliest Catch” fishing vessel has been brought up in the show’s history.
One similar was that of David Zielinski, a former deckhand who unfortunately suffered severe injuries and burns while working for the Time Bandit, a boat owned by Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand, who have long been featured in the show.
The incident took place in January 2013, when a firework exploded in his hand as he was launching it towards another boat while following one of his Captains’ orders. The device was produced for the Hillstrands’ fireworks brand, and damaged Zielinski’s hand and forearm upon its blow-up, ultimately ending his career as a fisherman.
The lawsuit was filed by Zielinski in 2015 and took its due time in court, ultimately turning in Zielinski’s favor in 2015 with him being awarded $1.35 million in compensation.
While there’s no way to know whether Mavar’s case could have a similar outcome, these cases prove that there’s a lot of danger to which fishermen are exposed daily.
Where The Hansens Sued Before?
The crew at the fishing vessel Northwestern have gone through a fair share of legal issues, though those didn’t have anything to do with injured fishermen. For starters, Sig Hansen was accused of child molestation by his oldest daughter Melissa, who was born from a previous marriage.
Melissa Eckstrom, daughter of 'Deadliest Catch' star Sig Hansen, has sued him, claiming he abused her before she was 3….
According to the lawsuit filed by the young woman in 2018, the abuse allegedly occurred back in the 1990s during a house visit to Sig’s house, at a time when he and Melissa’s mother had already separated. However, Sig denied any abuse and had already been declared not guilty of the abuse allegations in 1993. It’s unclear whether this new case was dismissed, but no reports about it have been released for years.
On the other hand, Sig’s younger brother Edgar was accused of sexual assault of a minor in 2018, in an incident which took place in September 2017 at Mountlake Terrace, in Washington State. Sig was found guilty of the fourth-degree assault charges against him, and was given a 364-day sentence, around $1.600 in court costs, and underwent treatment for sexual deviation. It also resulted in his firing from “Deadliest Catch”, though he’s still normally working on board the Northwestern.
What Is Going On With The Show?
While it’s true that the legal matters involving “Deadliest Catch” are worrying, in recent times the biggest worries about the show were related to something very different than court battles. That issue is the cancellation of Alaska’s snow crab season in late 2022, resulting from the shortage of fish in the Bering Sea product to uncommon environmental conditions.
As reported by Alaska Beacon, billions were lost for Alaska’s fishery industry in the course of a couple of months, due to a marine heatwave which has been on-going. The shortage of snow crabs is only the beginning of more issues to come, as stated in the report.
Uh oh. You don't want to yell at your captain…
— Deadliest Catch (@DeadliestCatch) April 24, 2023
These latest developments are worrying for “Deadliest Catch”s future in the Bering Sea, so it’s unsurprising that the show is already looking for alternative settings for their spin-offs, such as the Norway-based show “The Viking Returns”, which premiered in late 2022 with Sig Hansen and his daughter Mandt as main stars.
So is the future of “Deadliest Catch” away from Alaska? Let’s wait and see it for ourselves.