Jones Act Cases from Accident Lawyer Hawaii

Jones Act Cases - Seaman Cases, Decisions & Opinions

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Jones Act - Table of Contents

The Jones Act - Cases, Decisions and Opinions

II. PERSONS ENTITLED TO RECOVER - A. Seamen - 1. General Principles - a. In General


111. Generally

Use of term "seaman" in Jones Act must be read in light of mischief to be corrected and the end to be attained. Chandris, Inc. v Latsis (1995, US) 132 L Ed 2d 314, 115 S Ct 2172, 95 CDOS 4499, 95 Daily Journal DAR 7769, 17 BNA OSHC 1257, 1995 AMC 1840.

Question of who is "member of a crew" under 33 USCS section 902(3)(G) and therefore "seaman" under Jones Act is mixed question of law and fact. Chandris, Inc. v Latsis (1995, US) 132 L Ed 2d 314, 115 S Ct 2172, 95 CDOS 4499, 95 Daily Journal DAR 7769, 17 BNA OSHC 1257, 1995 AMC 1840.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688(a))--which establishes negligence cause of action for wrongful death, but limits it to seamen--does not preclude present cause of action, for individual, not having been seaman, was not covered by Jones Act. Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Corp. v Garris (2001) 532 US 811, 150 L Ed 2d 34, 121 S Ct 1927, 2001 CDOS 4514, 2001 Daily Journal DAR 5549, 2001 AMC 1817, 2001 Colo J C A R 2759, 14 FLW Fed S 305.

46 USCS Appx section 688 does not apply to members of naval forces of United States. Dobson v United States (1928, CA2 NY) 27 F2d 807, 1928 AMC 1583, cert den 278 US 653, 73 L Ed 563, 49 S Ct 179.

46 USCS Appx section 688 is broad and rule of interpretation is liberal as to who is seaman under it, but whenever tort occurs on navigable waters, person injured may not automatically avail himself of 48 USCS Appx section 688. Frankel v Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Inc. (1942, CA4 Md) 132 F2d 634, 1943 AMC 65, cert den 319 US 746, 87 L Ed 1702, 63 S Ct 1030.

There is nothing in 46 USCS Appx section 688 to indicate that Congress intended it to apply only to conventional members of ship's company. Offshore Co. v Robison (1959, CA5 La) 266 F2d 769, 75 ALR2d 1296 (disagreed with Johnson v John F. Beasley Constr. Co. (CA7 Ill) 742 F2d 1054, cert den (US) 84 L Ed 2d 328, 105 S Ct 1180 and (disagreed with Barrett v Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. (CA5 La) 781 F2d 1067)).

General rule relating to navigable waters of United States is that only master or member of crew is entitled to recover under 46 USCS Appx section 688. Klarman v Santini (1973, DC Conn) 363 F Supp 910, affd (CA2 Conn) 503 F2d 29, cert den 419 US 1110, 42 L Ed 2d 807, 95 S Ct 785.


112. Scope and definition of "seaman"

Status as "seaman" under Jones Act requires that worker's duties must contribute to function of vessel or to accomplishment of its mission and that worker's employment-related connection to vessel in navigation be substantial in terms of both duration and nature. Chandris, Inc. v Latsis (1995, US) 132 L Ed 2d 314, 115 S Ct 2172, 95 CDOS 4499, 95 Daily Journal DAR 7769, 17 BNA OSHC 1257, 1995 AMC 1840.

Inquiry as to whether maritime worker is covered by Jones Act is fundamentally status-based; thus, land-based maritime workers do not become seamen because they happen to be working on board vessel when they are injured, and seamen do not lose Jones Act protection when course of their service to vessel takes them ashore. Chandris, Inc. v Latsis (1995, US) 132 L Ed 2d 314, 115 S Ct 2172, 95 CDOS 4499, 95 Daily Journal DAR 7769, 17 BNA OSHC 1257, 1995 AMC 1840.

Although protections afforded to maritime employees under Jones Act extend to only those maritime employees who do ship's work, such threshold requirement is very broad, in that all who work at sea in service of ship are eligible for seaman status under Jones Act. Chandris, Inc. v Latsis (1995, US) 132 L Ed 2d 314, 115 S Ct 2172, 95 CDOS 4499, 95 Daily Journal DAR 7769, 17 BNA OSHC 1257, 1995 AMC 1840.

Coverage of employees under 46 USCS Appx section 688(a) is confined to seamen, those workers who face regular exposure to perils of sea; land-based employment is inconsistent with coverage under section 688(a). Harbor Tug & Barge Co. v Papai (1997, US) 137 L Ed 2d 800, 117 S Ct 1535, 97 CDOS 3507, 97 Daily Journal DAR 6021, 1997 AMC 1817, 10 FLW Fed S 433.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) does not purport to change definition of seaman so as to do away with necessity of contractual relation of employment to serve on board vessel. Buffalo & Grand Island Ferry Co. v Williams (1928, CA2 NY) 25 F2d 612.

"Seaman" is one whose occupation is to navigate vessels upon sea, and term includes all those on board whose labor contributes to accomplishment of main object in which vessel is engaged. Osland v Star Fish & Oyster Co. (1939, CA5 Ala) 107 F2d 113, 1940 AMC 127, later app (CA5 Ala) 118 F2d 772, cert den 314 US 615, 86 L Ed 495, 62 S Ct 86, reh den 314 US 716, 86 L Ed 570, 62 S Ct 477; Carumbo v Cape Cod S.S. Co. (1941, CA1 Mass) 123 F2d 991 (disagreed with Offshore Co. v Robison (CA5 La) 266 F2d 769, 75 ALR2d 1296 (disagreed with Johnson v John F. Beasley Constr. Co. (CA7 Ill) 742 F2d 1054, cert den (US) 84 L Ed 2d 328, 105 S Ct 1180 and (disagreed with Barrett v Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. (CA5 La) 781 F2d 1067))); Vojkovich v Ursich (1942) 49 Cal App 2d 268, 121 P2d 803, 1942 AMC 299.

Oil well service employees were clearly seamen under Jones Act, since they were more or less permanently attached to vessels in navigation and their activities contributed to function of vessels, even though were not seamen within meaning of exception to Fair Labor Standards Act (29 USCS section 213(b)(6)). Dole v Petroleum Treaters, Inc. (1989, CA5 La) 876 F2d 518, 29 BNA WH Cas 582, 112 CCH LC P 35237, reh den (CA5) 1989 US App LEXIS 13173.

Test of seaman status under Jones Act is employment-related connection to vessel in navigation under following circumstances: (1) plaintiff contributed to function, or helped accomplish mission, of vessel; (2) plaintiff's contribution was limited to particular vessel or identifiable group of vessels; (3) plaintiff's contribution was substantial in terms of its duration or nature; and (4) course of employment regularly exposed plaintiff to hazards of sea. Latsis v Chandris, Inc. (1994, CA2 NY) 20 F3d 45.

Plaintiff is seaman for purposes of 46 USCS Appx section 688 where plaintiff's work clearly contributes to function of dredge in accomplishment of its mission. Ramos v Universal Dredging Corp. (1982, DC Hawaii) 547 F Supp 661.

To qualify as Jones Act seaman plaintiff must be assigned permanently to or perform substantial part of his work on vessel, and he must contribute to function of vessel or its mission or operation. Bogan v Barge T-13315B (1985, ED La) 607 F Supp 85.

Claimant hoping to establish status as "seaman" under 46 Appx USCS section 688 must prove that he was permanently assigned to or performed substantial part of his work on vessel in navigation and that capacity in which he was employed or duty which he performed contributed to the function of vessel or accomplishment of mission. Russo v F & T Services Corp. (1986, ED La) 636 F Supp 897.

Injury claim fails under 46 USCS Appx section 688, where claimant is co-owner of boat on which he was injured. Strom v M/V "Western Dawn" (1986, WD Wash) 698 F Supp 212, 1987 AMC 2794.

Construction worker's personal injury claim against employer fails under 46 USCS Appx section 688, where worker was working on bridge while assigned to floating crane, because worker was not "seaman." Stephenson v McLean Contracting Co. (1988, DC Md) 702 F Supp 552, 1988 AMC 2640.


113. --Construction with Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 USCS section section 901 et seq.)

Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) are mutually exclusive compensation regimes; term "master or member of a crew" in 33 USCS section 902(3)(G) is refinement of term "seaman" in Jones Act and excludes from LHWCA coverage those properly covered under Jones Act; injured workers who fall under neither category may still recover under applicable state workers' compensation scheme or in admiralty. Chandris, Inc. v Latsis (1995, US) 132 L Ed 2d 314, 115 S Ct 2172, 95 CDOS 4499, 95 Daily Journal DAR 7769, 17 BNA OSHC 1257, 1995 AMC 1840.

Employee who is within exclusion from coverage under Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 USCS section section 901 et seq.) as "master or member of a crew of any vessel" pursuant to 33 USCS section 902(3)(G) is seaman entitled to sue for damages under 46 USCS Appx section 688(a). Harbor Tug & Barge Co. v Papai (1997, US) 137 L Ed 2d 800, 117 S Ct 1535, 97 CDOS 3507, 97 Daily Journal DAR 6021, 1997 AMC 1817, 10 FLW Fed S 433.

Word "seaman" as used in 46 USCS Appx section 688 does not mean same thing as "member of a crew" in Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 USCS section section 901 et seq.), but "seaman" is broad enough to cover both one who is member of crew and one who is not member of crew. Carumbo v Cape Cod S.S. Co. (1941, CA1 Mass) 123 F2d 991, 1942 AMC 215 (disagreed with Offshore Co. v Robison (CA5 La) 266 F2d 769, 75 ALR2d 1296 (disagreed with Johnson v John F. Beasley Constr. Co. (CA7 Ill) 742 F2d 1054, cert den (US) 84 L Ed 2d 328, 105 S Ct 1180 and (disagreed with Barrett v Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. (CA5 La) 781 F2d 1067))).

Finding of deputy commissioner in proceeding under Longshore and Harborworkers' Compensation Act (33 USCS section section 901 et seq.) that plaintiff was injured while performing service as member of shore staff for employer and engaged in shifting vessel from drydock, does constitute finding, for purposes of seaman's separate action under 46 USCS Appx section 688, that plaintiff was not member of crew. Hagens v United Fruit Co. (1943, CA2 NY) 135 F2d 842.

Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 USCS section section 901 et seq.) in effect amended 46 USCS Appx section 688 such that term "seaman" became synonymous with term "member of a crew." Brown v ITT Rayonier, Inc. (1974, CA5 Ga) 497 F2d 234.

Ship repairer expressly covered under Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 USCS section section 901 et seq.) is precluded from filing suit under Jones Act. Williams v Weber Management Services, Inc. (1987, CA5 La) 839 F2d 1039.

Term "seaman," as used in Jones Act, and "member of a crew of a vessel," as used in LHWCA, are equivalent. Harwood v Partredereit AF 15.5.81 (1991, CA4 Va) 944 F2d 1187.

Congress, in passing Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, limited application of term "seaman" in Jones Act to "a master or member of a crew of any vessel." Mietla v Warner Co. (1975, ED Pa) 387 F Supp 937.

Employer is denied summary post-trial judgment against Jones Act claimant, where claimant was injured in normal course of his employment as crane operator while unloading riprap from barge and laying it on bank of navigable waters, because claimant was not engaged in longshoring activities per se so as to preclude his "seaman" status. Pierre v Pontchartrain Dredging Corp. (1989, ED La) 713 F Supp 207.

General maintenance worker's Jones Act suit against employer is summarily dismissed, even though worker injured back while attempting to attach steel cable from towboat to fitting on barge, because worker was engaged largely as harbor worker/ship repairman and was not seaman but rather 33 USCS section 902(3) "employee" covered exclusively by LHWCA. Petty v Dakota Barge Service (1989, DC Minn) 730 F Supp 983.

For purposes of 46 USCS Appx section 688 seaman is usually member of crew, as distinguished from longshoreman or harbor worker. Curtis Bay Towing Co. v Dean (1938) 174 Md 498, 199 A 521, 1938 AMC 851, cert den 305 US 628, 83 L Ed 402, 59 S Ct 92.


114. --As question of fact

Whether workman was seaman and member of crew of vessel engaged in commerce was question of fact to be determined by jury. Gianfala v Texas Co. (1955) 350 US 879, 100 L Ed 775, 76 S Ct 141, reh den 350 US 960, 100 L Ed 834, 76 S Ct 346 and (not followed Johnson v John F. Beasley Constr. Co. (CA7 Ill) 742 F2d 1054, cert den (US) 84 L Ed 2d 328, 105 S Ct 1180 and (disagreed with Barrett v Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. (CA5 La) 781 F2d 1067)); Schantz v American Dredging Co. (1943, CA3 Pa) 138 F2d 534; McKie v Diamond Marine Co. (1953, CA5 Tex) 204 F2d 132 (disagreed with Offshore Co. v Robison (CA5 La) 266 F2d 769, 75 ALR2d 1296 (disagreed with Johnson v John F. Beasley Constr. Co. (CA7 Ill) 742 F2d 1054, cert den (US) 84 L Ed 2d 328, 105 S Ct 1180 and (disagreed with Barrett v Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. (CA5 La) 781 F2d 1067))); Bernardo v Bethlehem Steel Co. (1963, CA2 NY) 314 F2d 604; Slatton v Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. (1974, CA8 Ark) 506 F2d 505, cert den 421 US 931, 44 L Ed 2d 88, 95 S Ct 1657; Mietla v Warner Co. (1975, ED Pa) 387 F Supp 937; Garcia v Queen, Ltd. (1973, CA5 Fla) 487 F2d 625, 17 FR Serv 2d 1593; Ardoin v J. Ray McDermott & Co. (1981, CA5 La) 641 F2d 277, reh den (CA5 La) 646 F2d 566 and later app (CA5 La) 684 F2d 335, 11 Fed Rules Evid Serv 843.

Inquiry whether employee is seaman within meaning of 46 USCS Appx section 688(a) is mixed question of law and fact. Harbor Tug & Barge Co. v Papai (1997, US) 137 L Ed 2d 800, 117 S Ct 1535, 97 CDOS 3507, 97 Daily Journal DAR 6021, 1997 AMC 1817, 10 FLW Fed S 433.

When employee sues under 46 USCS Appx section 688 whether he is to be classified as seaman or harbor worker covered by 33 USCS section section 901 et seq. presents issues of fact for determination by jury or court, as case may be. Bowen v Shamrock Towing Co. (1943, CA2 NY) 139 F2d 674, 1944 AMC 39; Smrekar v Bay & River Navigation Co. (1945) 69 Cal App 2d 654, 160 P2d 85, cert den 326 US 782, 90 L Ed 473, 66 S Ct 338.

Normally question of seaman status in particular case is to be resolved by factfinder and standard for testing jury's finding that worker is or is not Jones Act seaman is whether there is reasonable evidentiary basis to support that finding. Savoie v Otto Candies, Inc. (1982, CA5 La) 692 F2d 363, 12 Fed Rules Evid Serv 269.

Question of plaintiff's status as seaman is ordinarily question of fact; District Court may determine seaman status, as matter of law, only where there is no reasonable evidentiary basis to support jury finding that plaintiff is seaman. Petersen v Chesapeake & O. R. Co. (1986, CA6 Mich) 784 F2d 732.

Activity of plaintiff at time of injury is only one factor in analysis of whether or not that individual, seeking damages under Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688), is engaged in occupation covered by Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 USCS section 905) and thus ineligible for Jones Act benefits; general issue of material fact exists as to plaintiff's status as seaman, where, at time of accident, plaintiff was either on shore constructing new crew quarters for barge or on shore loading barge with sand for subsequent pipelaying job offshore, and plaintiff also maintains that he spent approximately 90 percent of his employment time with employer offshore onboard barge as member of crew of that barge, and employer does not dispute that plaintiff's job title for purposes of receiving compensation was crane operator onboard barge. Thibodeaux v Torch, Inc. (1988, CA5 La) 858 F2d 1048, reh den, en banc (CA5 La) 862 F2d 874.

Appellate review of determination of whether injured worker is seaman under Jones Act, which is mixed question of law and fact, is plenary. Roberts v Cardinal Servs. (2001, CA5 La) 266 F3d 368.

It is well established that question of seaman's status is one of fact and must be left to fact finder if there is any evidence to support finding that worker is member of crew of vessel. Mietla v Warner Co. (1975, ED Pa) 387 F Supp 937.

46 USCS Appx section 688 is applicable only if seaman is involved and applies only with respect to liability of owners of vessels; status of person as "seaman" or "owner" is ordinarily matter determinable only by detailed examination of facts of each particular case. De Court v Beckman Instruments, Inc. (1973, 4th Dist) 32 Cal App 3d 628, 108 Cal Rptr 109.

Question of fact as to extent of release exists, where ship's cook, who was injured in course of employment, settled Jones Act claim for lump sum and released vessel, vessel's underwriter, and employer from liability, and employer ceased disability payments, claiming that release covered disability payments as well as tort claims, because case turns on whether cook was "seaman" within meaning of Jones Act, and question of whether his job contributed to function of vessel or to accomplishment of its mission was question for jury. Antoniou v Thiokol Corp. Group Long Term Disability Plan (1993, MD Fla) 829 F Supp 1323, 7 FLW Fed D 373.


115. --As question of law

Maritime worker whose occupation as ship repairman is listed in Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act is not precluded from being "seaman" under Jones Act. Southwest Marine, Inc. v Gizoni (1991, US) 116 L Ed 2d 405, 112 S Ct 486, 91 Daily Journal DAR 14793, 15 BNA OSHC 1369, 1992 AMC 305.

Inquiry whether employee is seaman within meaning of 46 USCS Appx section 688(a) is mixed question of law and fact. Harbor Tug & Barge Co. v Papai (1997, US) 137 L Ed 2d 800, 117 S Ct 1535, 97 CDOS 3507, 97 Daily Journal DAR 6021, 1997 AMC 1817, 10 FLW Fed S 433.

Although it is rare that factual setting is so clear that status as seaman can be resolved as matter of law, it will be so resolved in appropriate circumstances. Burns v Anchor--Wate Co. (1972, CA5 La) 469 F2d 730.

Ordinarily, whether claimant is seaman is factual dispute to be resolved by jury, but if there is no genuine factual dispute to be resolved, District Court may properly refuse to submit issue to jury where only rational inference to be drawn from evidence is that claimant was not seaman. Owens v Diamond M Drilling Co. (1973, CA5 La) 487 F2d 74, reh den (CA5 La) 487 F2d 1401; Noack v American S.S. Co. (1974, CA6 Ohio) 491 F2d 937; Higginbotham v Mobil Oil Corp. (1977, CA5 La) 545 F2d 422 (disagreed with Smith v M/V Captain Fred (CA5 La) 546 F2d 119) as stated in Longmire v Sea Drilling Corp. (CA5 La) 610 F2d 1342, reh den (CA5 La) 615 F2d 919 and (disagreed with Steckler v United States (CA10 Colo) 549 F2d 1372, 38 ALR Fed 188 (disagreed with Smith v United States (CA3 Pa) 587 F2d 1013)) and revd on other grounds 436 US 618, 56 L Ed 2d 581, 98 S Ct 2010, on remand (CA5 La) 578 F2d 565 and reh den 439 US 884, 58 L Ed 2d 200, 99 S Ct 232 and (ovrld on other grounds Culver v Slater Boat Co. (CA5 La) 688 F2d 280, op withdrawn, in part (CA5 La) 722 F2d 114, cert den 467 US 1252, 82 L Ed 2d 842, 104 S Ct 3537 and cert den (US) 83 L Ed 2d 37, 105 S Ct 90) and (disapproved on other grounds Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. v Pfeifer, 462 US 523, 76 L Ed 2d 768, 103 S Ct 2541, on remand (CA3) 711 F2d 570); Holland v Healy Tibbitts Constr. Co. (1974, DC Hawaii) 379 F Supp 192; Bedia v Ford Motor Co. (1973, DC NY) 58 FRD 423; Brown v L. A. Wells Const. Co. (1944) 143 Ohio St 580, 28 Ohio Ops 486, 56 NE2d 451.

Determination whether claimant has proved sufficient connection with water-borne or vessel-related activities to invoke jurisdiction as seaman under 46 USCS Appx section 688 is mixed question law and fact. Holland v Allied Structural Steel Co. (1976, CA5 Miss) 539 F2d 476, reh den (CA5 Miss) 542 F2d 1173 and cert den 429 US 1105, 51 L Ed 2d 557, 97 S Ct 1136.

While question of whether claimant is seaman is ordinarily resolved by trier of fact, trial court may nevertheless enter directed verdict where record demonstrates that reasonable persons could not draw conflicting inferences which might lead to different conclusion. Landry v Amoco Production Co. (1979, CA5 La) 595 F2d 1070.

District Court properly ruled as matter of law that roustabout assigned to fixed offshore platform in Gulf of Mexico was not "seaman" with respect to crewboat where there was not scintilla of evidence that he was other than mere passenger on boat. Beard v Shell Oil Co. (1979, CA5 Tex) 606 F2d 515.

Although determining seaman status is usually question of fact, if requisite proof is absent, court may decide status is lacking as matter of law and there was no reasonable basis on which jury could have found that plaintiff was seaman where testimony clearly showed that she was assigned to fixed platforms, lived on offshore, fixed platform when working, her job responsibilities related to well sites at other fixed locations, her only contact with boats occurred when they ferried her from one job site to another, she did not perform any job-related duties on boats, except to sometimes receive radio messages as to what was to be done at well site, and any minor aid she extended on boats was as courtesy and not as part of her duties as employee. Kerr-McGee Corp. v Ma-Ju Marine Services, Inc. (1987, CA5 La) 830 F2d 1332.

Appellate review of determination of whether injured worker is seaman under Jones Act, which is mixed question of law and fact, is plenary. Roberts v Cardinal Servs. (2001, CA5 La) 266 F3d 368.

While determination of person's status as Jones Act seaman is normally question of fact which should be submitted to jury, issue can properly be addressed in motion for summary judgment where there is no reasonable evidentiary basis to support jury finding that platform worker is seaman. Myrick v Teledyne Movible Offshore, Inc. (1981, SD Tex) 516 F Supp 602.

Issue of whether claimant is "seaman" is normally matter for finder of fact to determine after trial; matter may be taken from trier of fact, however, where record demonstrates that reasonable persons could not draw conflicting inferences which might lead to different conclusion. Ramos v Universal Dredging Corp. (1982, DC Hawaii) 547 F Supp 661.

Trial court may properly decide whether individual is seaman within meaning of 46 USCS Appx section 688, when any other determination would be so lacking in evidentiary support that it should be decided as question of law rather than of fact. Howard v Global Marine, Inc. (1972, 2d Dist) 28 Cal App 3d 809, 105 Cal Rptr 50.

That worker involved is "seaman" within meaning of 46 USCS Appx section 688 may be question of law where facts are undisputed and reasonable men could not draw conflicting inferences. Soucie v Trautwein Bros. (1969, 4th Dist) 275 Cal App 2d 20, 79 Cal Rptr 671.


116. "Member of crew" as seaman

Duties of man during vessel's travel are relevant in determining whether he is member of crew for purposes of 46 USCS Appx section 688 while vessel is anchored. Senko v La Crosse Dredging Corp. (1957) 352 US 370, 1 L Ed 2d 404, 77 S Ct 415, reh den 353 US 931, 1 L Ed 2d 724, 77 S Ct 716.

To have right of recovery for personal injuries under 46 USCS Appx section 688, injured party must have status as member of vessel, for it is seamen, not others who may work on vessel, to whom Congress extended protection of this section. Braen v Pfeifer Oil Transp. Co. (1959) 361 US 129, 4 L Ed 2d 191, 80 S Ct 247.

46 USCS Appx section 688 does not require plaintiff to be member of crew. Antus v Interocean S.S. Co. (1939, CA6 Ohio) 108 F2d 185, 1940 AMC 459.

46 USCS Appx section 688 applies only to seamen who are members of crew of vessel plying navigable waters. Gahagan Const. Corp. v Armao (1948, CA1 Mass) 165 F2d 301, cert den 333 US 876, 92 L Ed 1152, 68 S Ct 905; McKie v Diamond Marine Co. (1953, CA5 Tex) 204 F2d 132 (disagreed with Offshore Co. v Robison (CA5 La) 266 F2d 769, 75 ALR2d 1296 (disagreed with Johnson v John F. Beasley Constr. Co. (CA7 Ill) 742 F2d 1054, cert den (US) 84 L Ed 2d 328, 105 S Ct 1180 and (disagreed with Barrett v Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. (CA5 La) 781 F2d 1067))).

Recovery under 46 USCS Appx section 688 requires affiliation with "vessel", either as crew member or as one injured aboard doing seaman's work. Powers v Bethlehem Steel Corp. (1973, CA1 Mass) 477 F2d 643, reh den (CA1 Mass) 483 F2d 963 and cert den 414 US 856, 38 L Ed 2d 106, 94 S Ct 160.

Remedy provided by 46 USCS Appx section 688 is applicable to class of persons defined as seamen for admiralty jurisdictional purposes, i. e. one who is permanently attached to and employed by vessel as member of its crew. Whittington v Sewer Constr. Co. (1976, CA4 W Va) 541 F2d 427.

Inquiry into seaman status for Jones Act purposes requires determination of whether injured plaintiff is master or member of crew of any vessel. Roberts v Cardinal Servs. (2001, CA5 La) 266 F3d 368.

Although Jones Act itself does not define seaman, term is used interchangebly throughout case law with phrase "member of the crew." Hines v Saylor Marine Corp. (1985, SD Ga) 615 F Supp 33.


117. Effect of prior or future status as seaman

Whether person is seaman for purposes of 46 USCS Appx section 688 depends largely upon facts of particular case and activity in which he was engaged at time of injury; whether person has been in past, or expects in future to be, seaman does not render maritime work which is not maritime in its nature. Desper v Starved Rock Ferry Co. (1952) 342 US 187, 96 L Ed 205, 72 S Ct 216, reh den 342 US 934, 96 L Ed 695, 72 S Ct 374.

Employee who brought action under 46 USCS Appx section 688, was not seaman despite employment as cook aboard dredge for more than one year prior to accident when, for 2 week period preceding accident which gave rise to action, employee in new position had no significant duties upon dredge, and connection with dredge was so casual and insignificant as to give rise to no jury question as to his seaman status after he commenced work on new project; in determining whether plaintiff was seaman in new position, past work experience aboard dredge was irrelevant. Guidry v South Louisiana Contractors, Inc. (1977, WD La) 444 F Supp 850, remanded (CA5 La) 614 F2d 447, reh den (CA5 La) 616 F2d 568.

Neither plaintiff's assertions that he was formerly "seaman" by occupation and that he intended to resume such status at some point in future, nor that he was member of seafaring union at time of his injuries and that he was doing work which seaman might also perform, are controlling. Baker v Pacific Far East Lines, Inc. (1978, ND Cal) 451 F Supp 84.

Individual who had no pending assignment to vessel at time of injury and who never had any assignment to vessel during course of employment for particular employer is not seaman under Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) notwithstanding that individual may have been seaman with regard to prior employers; employee's status with regard to employer A does not affect status with regard to employer B. Ramos v Delmar Systems, Inc. (1984, WD La) 596 F Supp 1105, affd in part and vacated in part on other grounds (CA5 La) 750 F2d 389, reh den, en banc (CA5 La) 756 F2d 882 and reh den, en banc (CA5 La) 756 F2d 882 and reh den, en banc (CA5 La) 756 F2d 882.

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In the case of Tracey v. Solesky, 427 Md. 627, 50 A.3d 1075 (Md., 2012), the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that pit bull owners and harborers have strict liability for attacks on humans by their dogs. Massachusettes had previously established a similar policy. Cute pit bulls? Not hardly. Historically the dogs were bred to be weapons. They regularly maim and kill. Some courts are finally holding that owners and harborers of this particular breed are required to compensate their victims when their pit bulls wrongfully injure or kill - without the traditional "one free bite".










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Jones Act Cases - Decisions - Opinions

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