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

I. IN GENERAL - C. Applicability to Foreign Ships, Seamen, and Occurrences - 3. Nationality or Ownership of Vessel - c. Foreign Flag Vessels Owned or Operated by American Interests


62. Generally

Alien seaman injured on American-owned vessel of foreign registry could avail himself of 46 USCS Appx section 688. Carroll v United States (1943, CA2 NY) 133 F2d 690, 1943 AMC 339.

Although ownership is important factor, Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) does not apply to Greek seaman's suit for breach of contract against Liberian vessel ultimately owned and controlled by American citizen, since American ownership is not sole determinative factor and since vessel did not regularly engage in substantial commerce with territory of United States. Anastasiadis v S.S. Little John (1965, CA5 Tex) 346 F2d 281, reh den (CA5 Tex) 347 F2d 823 and cert den 384 US 920, 16 L Ed 2d 440, 86 S Ct 1368.

Congress did not intend for 46 USCS Appx section 688 to apply merely because in series of interlocking, multinational corporations, ownership is ultimately in hands of American corporation. De Mateos v Texaco, Inc. (1977, CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449.

District Court had jurisdiction of action brought by foreign seamen for injuries sustained aboard foreign ship at sea, where plaintiffs shipped from San Francisco for round trip voyage and ship was being operated by American citizens, residents of San Francisco. The Sinaloa (1923, DC Cal) 292 F 640.

American seaman injured on ship owned by American corporation is entitled to benefit of 46 USCS Appx section 688 even though ship is registered under foreign flag. Gerradin v United Fruit Co. (1931, DC NY) 51 F2d 417, 1931 AMC 1425, affd (CA2 NY) 60 F2d 927, 1933 AMC 81, cert den 287 US 642, 77 L Ed 556, 53 S Ct 92.

Alien seaman on foreign vessel under time-charter to American corporation did not acquire any status as "American seaman" which might be factor in moving admiralty court, in its discretion, to assume protection of his rights under 46 USCS Appx section 688. The Lynghaug (1941, DC Pa) 42 F Supp 713, 1941 AMC 1585.

American citizen and shipowner cannot have benefit of American trade and operation and then, through placing ownership and registration in foreign corporations, deprive American court of jurisdiction; court may press beyond formalities of more or less nominal registration to enforce against American shipowners obligations which American law places upon them. Voyiatzis v National Shipping & Trading Corp. (1961, SD NY) 199 F Supp 920.

Jurisdiction under 46 USCS Appx section 688 was denied for want of even minimal connection with United States where facts indicated that of four defendants, only one was incorporated in United States, and that it was owned by foreign shareholders; plaintiff was treated in United States hospital and ship was destined for, but outside, United States waters at time of commission of tort. Brillis v Chandris (U.S.A.) Inc. (1963, SD NY) 215 F Supp 520, 1963 AMC 1742.

American ownership and control is factor of significance in determining whether 46 USCS Appx section 688 is to be applied. Lascaratos v S/T Olympic Flame (1964, ED Pa) 227 F Supp 161.

46 USCS Appx section 688 applied to action for death of seaman occurring on Liberian registered ship which was ultimately owned by United States citizens. Groves v Universe Tankships, Inc. (1970, SD NY) 308 F Supp 826.

Because foreign incorporation of defendant corporation which owned and operated vessel, and foreign registration of vessel, were facade designed to disguise American beneficial ownership, operation and control and to avoid consequences of American shipping laws, 46 USCS Appx section 688 was applicable to claim asserted by plaintiff where plaintiff was Greek National residing in Greece, he was hired in Greece as engineering member of crew of subject vessel, vessel was registered in Panama and flew that Nation's flag, vessel was owned and operated by Panamanian corporations, plaintiff and other crew members signed standard form Panamanian articles while vessel was in Italy, when vessel was again in Italy plaintiff and other crew members executed agreement which made reference to employment under terms of Greek collective bargaining agreement with regard to working conditions and wages, and plaintiff was injured while working in ship's generator room at time when vessel was on High Seas, some 5 hours out of port of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Pandazopoulos v Universal Cruise Line, Inc. (1973, SD NY) 365 F Supp 208.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) was not applicable to actions arising out of explosion at gas compression/reinjection plant which killed employees aboard crewboat where only factor which would support application of United States law was allegiance of shipowner (plant owner being Delaware corporation) whereas (1) all plaintiffs' decedents were Venezuelan citizens who were working at time of accident on Venezuelan-registered vessel in Venezuelan waters, (2) Venezuela was most accessible forum, and (3) business operation from which alleged liability arose was based in Venezuela. De Alvarez v Creole Petroleum Corp. (1978, DC Del) 462 F Supp 782, affd (CA3 Del) 613 F2d 1240.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is not applicable to suit brought for death of Honduran seaman aboard Panamanian vessel while in Persian Gulf; fact that ultimate owner of ship assisted wholly-owned Panamanian subsidiary in pre-employment transportation of seaman, as well as obtaining settlement after his death, does not demonstrate that base of operations of seaman's direct employer is in United States. James v Gulf International Marine Corp. (1982, ED La) 554 F Supp 682, revd, in part, without op (CA5 La) 731 F2d 886, later app (CA5 La) 777 F2d 193.


63. American agent

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is applied to suit by Greek seaman for injuries sustained aboard Liberian registered and Panamanian owned ship since sole stockholder of Panamanian ship-owning corporation was American citizen and ship was operated by American corporation using agent in United States. Voyiatzis v National Shipping & Trading Corp. (1961, SD NY) 199 F Supp 920.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) does not apply to Greek seaman's suit for injuries suffered on high seas aboard Greek registered and Panamanian owned ship, despite seaman's allegation that American agent which managed ship through Bermuda corporation was in fact one of real owners of corporate shipowner. Sfiridas v Santa Cecelia Co., S.A. (1973, ED Pa) 358 F Supp 108, affd without op (CA3 Pa) 493 F2d 1401.


64. American parent corporation

District Court had no discretionary power to refuse to adjudicate case brought under 46 USCS Appx section 688 by an alien seaman, assaulted within territorial waters of United States, aboard ship flying Liberian flag, owned by Liberian corporation which was wholly owned by Panamanian corporation, all stock in which was owned by United States citizens, on voyage from Baltimore to Philadelphia, articles for which were signed in Baltimore, which seaman had signed declaration of intention to become United States citizen few months after assault. Bartholomew v Universe Tankships, Inc. (1959, CA2 NY) 263 F2d 437, 1959 AMC 273, 1 FR Serv 2d 621, cert den 359 US 1000, 3 L Ed 2d 1030, 79 S Ct 1138 (disagreed with De Mateos v Texaco, Inc. (CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449) and (disagreed with Chiazor v Transworld Drilling Co. (CA5 La) 648 F2d 1015, reh den (CA5 La) 659 F2d 1075 and cert den 455 US 1019, 72 L Ed 2d 136, 102 S Ct 1714) as stated in Vaz Borralho v Keydril Co. (CA5 Tex) 696 F2d 379, reh den (CA5 Tex) 710 F2d 207 and (disagreed with Tallentire v Offshore Logistics, Inc. (CA5 La) 754 F2d 1274, revd on other grounds (US) 91 L Ed 2d 174, 106 S Ct 2485).

Citizen of Poland, but resident of United States, was injured in Panama while working as seaman on vessel of Honduran registry owned by Honduran company, all of whose stock was owned by United States company; effect was given to nationality of actual control of ship so that seaman could maintain action for injuries under 46 USCS Appx section 688 despite fact he had signed articles reciting that all rights and obligations were governed exclusively by laws of Republic of Honduras. Zielinski v Empresa Hondurena De Vapores (1953, DC NY) 113 F Supp 93.

Although Puerto Rican shipowning corporation is wholly-owned subsidiary of Pennsylvania corporation, Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) does not apply to suit by Puerto Rican seaman for injuries sustained in Port of San Juan while working aboard Puerto Rican tug, since parent corporation is not liable for acts of subsidiary unless subsidiary is mere instrumentality of parent. Fanfan v Berwind Corp. (1973, ED Pa) 362 F Supp 793.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is applicable to German seaman's suit for injury sustained aboard ship on high seas where Canadian corporate owner is owned by Texas corporation, since Canadian and American corporations are substantially interrelated, and registration in Canada was for tax and other economic considerations. Rode v Sedco, Inc. (1975, ED Tex) 394 F Supp 206.

United States law was applicable to action brought by Public Administrator on behalf of widow and relatives of deceased foreign seaman, based upon 46 USCS Appx section 688 and general maritime law, where vessel owner was foreign corporation wholly owned by New York corporation which was wholly owned by citizens of United States and residents of New York. Fitzgerald v Angela Compania Naviera, S. A. (1976, SD NY) 417 F Supp 151 revd on other grounds (CA2 NY) 592 F2d 58, cert dismd 443 US 928, 61 L Ed 2d 897, 100 S Ct 15.

United States law was not applicable to action brought by representative of deceased seaman, notwithstanding that vessel was owned by Panamanian corporation which was wholly owned subsidiary of United States corporation, where (1) injury occurred either on high seas or in port of Honduras or Costa Rica, (2) seaman was Panamanian citizen who executed employment contract in Panama, (3) there was no evidence that Panamanian corporation was "facade" to enable United States corporation to avoid its obligations under United States maritime law, and (4) plaintiff, who was also citizen and resident of Panama, had already sued in Panama on same claim and had had that claim fully adjudicated; action would be dismissed on basis of forum non conveniens. De Mateos v Texaco Panama, Inc. (1976, ED Pa) 417 F Supp 411, affd (CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is applicable to Portuguese seaman's suit for injuries sustained in Great Britain aboard Panamanian registered and Dutch owned vessel where Panamanian and Dutch corporations, for all practical purposes, are operated from home office of parent corporation in Texas, and Dutch shipowner's contacts with United States are substantial and both Panamanian and Dutch corporations are ultimately owned by American corporation. Castanho v Jackson Marine, Inc. (1980, ED Tex) 484 F Supp 201, affd in part and app dismd in part (CA5 Tex) 650 F2d 546, reh den (CA5 Tex) 656 F2d 700 and reh den (CA5 Tex) 656 F2d 700.

United States does not have sufficient interest to justify jurisdiction under Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) for injuries sustained by Brazilian seaman working aboard Brazilian drilling barge off coast of Brazil where only American involvement was ownership by 2 U.S. companies of all stock of Brazilian company that owned drilling rig, even though U.S. companies exercised some supervisory and administrative responsibility for Brazilian company. Dos Santos v Reading & Bates Drilling Co. (1980, ED La) 495 F Supp 843.


65. American stock ownership in foreign owner

Action under 46 USCS Appx section 688 for injuries sustained on ship flying Honduras flag could be maintained where it appeared that only contacts ship had with Honduras were flag and articles, in that ship was owned by Liberian corporation, all stock of which was owned by Greek and American citizens, orders directing movements of vessel came partly from American and partly from Greek owners, members of crew were residents of Greece, except for two residents of United States, injury occurred in American port, and vessel had never, in any of its voyages, visited Hondurian port. Southern Cross S.S. Co. v Firipis (1960, CA4 Va) 285 F2d 651, 84 ALR2d 895, 1961 AMC 621, cert den 365 US 869, 5 L Ed 2d 859, 81 S Ct 903 and (disagreed with Swain v Isthmian Lines, Inc. (CA3 Pa) 360 F2d 81 (disagreed with Chung, Yong Il v Overseas Navigation Co. (CA11 Ala) 774 F2d 1043, reh den, en banc (CA11 Ala) 779 F2d 60 and reh den, en banc (CA11 Ala) 779 F2d 60 and cert den (US) 90 L Ed 2d 346, 106 S Ct 1802)) and (disapproved on other grounds Griffin v Oceanic Contractors, Inc., 458 US 564, 73 L Ed 2d 973, 102 S Ct 3245, on remand (CA5 Tex) 685 F2d 139).

District Court erred in failing to apply 46 USCS Appx section 688 to action by Greek seaman for injuries allegedly sustained while vessel was on high seas where (1) at least some stockholders of vessel owner were American citizens, (2) vessel was operating on liner service conducted by New York corporation and vessel was under direct control of that corporation and (3) earnings from vessel appeared to be collected in New York and expenses of vessel paid from New York; such contacts were substantial and predominated over such factors as ship's flag, place of incorporation of shipowner, and seaman's nationality. Antypas v Cia. Maritima San Basilio, S. A. (1976, CA2 NY) 541 F2d 307, cert den 429 US 1098, 51 L Ed 2d 545, 97 S Ct 1116 and (disagreed with De Mateos v Texaco, Inc. (CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449) and (disagreed with Chiazor v Transworld Drilling Co. (CA5 La) 648 F2d 1015, reh den (CA5 La) 659 F2d 1075 and cert den 455 US 1019, 72 L Ed 2d 136, 102 S Ct 1714) as stated in Vaz Borralho v Keydril Co. (CA5 Tex) 696 F2d 379, reh den (CA5 Tex) 710 F2d 207 and (disagreed with Tallentire v Offshore Logistics, Inc. (CA5 La) 754 F2d 1274, revd on other grounds (US) 91 L Ed 2d 174, 106 S Ct 2485) and (disagreed with Cruz v Maritime Co. of Philippines (CA2 NY) 702 F2d 47 (disagreed with Pereira v Utah Transport, Inc. (CA9 Cal) 764 F2d 686, cert dismd (US) 89 L Ed 2d 362, 106 S Ct 1253)).

Employee seamen on board vessels owned by corporation whose stock is owned by multinational business enterprise incorporated in Delaware are not entitled to recover under 46 USCS Appx section 688 if fact that corporation is incorporated in Delaware and some of stockholders are American is only contact with United States. De Mateos v Texaco, Inc. (1977, CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449.

Greek national seaman brought libel in admiralty in personam against Panamanian shipping corporation for injuries sustained on high sea, but 46 USCS Appx section 688 was not applicable even if controlling interest in corporation was held by United States citizens. Argyros v Polar Compania De Navegacion, Ltda. (1956, DC NY) 146 F Supp 624, 1957 AMC 97.

Although majority of stock of Panamanian ship-owning corporation is owned by United States citizens, Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is inapplicable to Greek seaman's suit for injuries sustained on high seas aboard Liberian registered vessel owned by Panamanian corporation, since American allegiance of shipowners, arrived at by piercing veil of corporate ownership, is nothing more than fortuitous circumstance. Mproumeriotis v Seacrest Shipping Co. (1957, DC NY) 149 F Supp 265.

Allegation in complaint of resident of Greece that beneficial owners of stock of corporation owning ship were American citizens did not make it imperative that federal district Court take jurisdiction over action as 46 USCS Appx section 688 case. Moutzouris v National Shipping & Trading Co. (1961, SD NY) 194 F Supp 468.

Although shipowning corporation is ultimately owned by American citizens, Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is not applicable to suit by Greek seaman for alleged aggravation of illness occurring on high seas aboard Greek registered and Panamanian owned vessel, since there must be some additional contact between transaction and United States and factor of ultimate stock ownership is insufficient to warrant application of Act. Malanos v Marsuerte Compania Naviera, S. A. (1966, ED Va) 259 F Supp 646.


66. --Particular percentage of stock or number of stockholders

46 USCS Appx section 688 jurisdiction existed with respect to action brought for wrongful death of Honduran seaman as to owner of vessel where all stock of corporation owning vessel was owned by Americans, managing and chartering agents for vessel had their base of operations in United States, and managing and chartering of vessel was conducted in United States. Moncada v Lemuria Shipping Corp. (1974, CA2 NY) 491 F2d 470, cert den 417 US 947, 41 L Ed 2d 667, 94 S Ct 3072 and (disagreed with De Mateos v Texaco, Inc. (CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449) and (disagreed with Chiazor v Transworld Drilling Co. (CA5 La) 648 F2d 1015, reh den (CA5 La) 659 F2d 1075 and cert den 455 US 1019, 72 L Ed 2d 136, 102 S Ct 1714) as stated in Vaz Borralho v Keydril Co. (CA5 Tex) 696 F2d 379, reh den (CA5 Tex) 710 F2d 207 and (disagreed with Tallentire v Offshore Logistics, Inc. (CA5 La) 754 F2d 1274, revd on other grounds (US) 91 L Ed 2d 174, 106 S Ct 2485).

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is inapplicable to suit by Honduran seaman for injuries sustained in Japanese waters aboard Norwegian vessel, since shareholders of Norwegian shipowning company, although including 8 Americans, also included 12,700 Norwegians. Merren v A/S Borgestad (1975, CA5 La) 519 F2d 82.

Majority stock ownership of and control by Americans of Panamanian corporate owner of vessel represented sufficient contact with United States to give federal district court subject matter jurisdiction in action brought by injured seaman against corporation. Bobolakis v Compania Panamena Maritima San Gerassimo, S. A. (1958, DC NY) 168 F Supp 236, 1959 AMC 697.

Majority stock ownership by citizens and residents of the United States and American citizenship of all directors of corporation owning vessel were not sufficient to sustain jurisdiction in federal district court under 46 USCS Appx section 688 where libellant was alien, vessel flew flag of foreign registry, injuries complained of occurred on high seas, and where greater part of witnesses, and particularly essential medical witnesses, resided outside United States and beyond process of court. Mpampouros v S.S. Auromar (1962, DC Md) 203 F Supp 944, 1962 AMC 849.

Percentage figures by themselves mean little for purposes of determining de facto control of corporation and, where participation by United States citizens reaches level of 48 percent, it may be inferred that it was more than fortuitous that management of business was based in United States; when mode and manner of doing business has all attributes of domestic business operation, businesses or corporations become subject to laws of United States even though more formal manifestations of arrangement appear to be foreign. Pavlou v Ocean Traders Marine Corp. (1962, SD NY) 211 F Supp 320.

Although ship aboard which Greek seaman was injured on high seas was of Panamanian registry and owned by Panamanian corporation, Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) is applicable to suit on ground that beneficial ownership of vessel is vested in United States citizen, since 50 percent of stock of Panamanian corporation is owned by American corporation which acted as ship's general agent in United States, and remaining 50 percent is owned by American citizen. Ventiadis v C. J. Thibodeaux & Co. (1968, SD Tex) 295 F Supp 135.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) does not apply to suit by Nigerian seaman for injuries sustained in Nigerian waters aboard Panamanian registered and Nigerian owned ship, despite fact that 60 percent of stock of nominal foreign corporate shipowner is owned by American corporation, since stock ownership alone is not sufficient to maintain jurisdiction under Act. Iriah v J. Ray McDermott & Co. (1979, DC Tex) 1979 AMC 1219.


67. Other American contacts present

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) applies to Liberian shipowning corporation in suit brought by British West Indian seaman for injuries sustained in American waters aboard vessel owned by Liberian corporation, since facade of foreign registration may be pentrated to reach true American ownership of vessel to prevent frustrating purposes of Act by American shipowners intent upon evading their obligations under law. Bartholomew v Universe Tankships, Inc. (1959, CA2 NY) 263 F2d 437, 1 FR Serv 2d 621, cert den 359 US 1000, 3 L Ed 2d 1030, 79 S Ct 1138 and (disagreed with De Mateos v Texaco, Inc. (CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449) and (disagreed with Chiazor v Transworld Drilling Co. (CA5 La) 648 F2d 1015, reh den (CA5 La) 659 F2d 1075 and cert den 455 US 1019, 72 L Ed 2d 136, 102 S Ct 1714) as stated in Vaz Borralho v Keydril Co. (CA5 Tex) 696 F2d 379, reh den (CA5 Tex) 710 F2d 207 and (disagreed with Tallentire v Offshore Logistics, Inc. (CA5 La) 754 F2d 1274, revd on other grounds (US) 91 L Ed 2d 174, 106 S Ct 2485).

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx section 688) applies to foreign seaman's right of action for injuries sustained on high seas aboard Greek flag vessel, on grounds that Panamanian corporation which owned ship was in fact operated by American corporation which solicited business in United States. Antypas v Cia. Maritima San Basilio, S. A. (1976, CA2 NY) 541 F2d 307, cert den 429 US 1098, 51 L Ed 2d 545, 97 S Ct 1116 and (disagreed with De Mateos v Texaco, Inc. (CA3 Pa) 562 F2d 895, cert den 435 US 904, 55 L Ed 2d 494, 98 S Ct 1449) and (disagreed with Chiazor v Transworld Drilling Co. (CA5 La) 648 F2d 1015, reh den (CA5 La) 659 F2d 1075 and cert den 455 US 1019, 72 L Ed 2d 136, 102 S Ct 1714) as stated in Vaz Borralho v Keydril Co. (CA5 Tex) 696 F2d 379, reh den (CA5 Tex) 710 F2d 207 and (disagreed with Tallentire v Offshore Logistics, Inc. (CA5 La) 754 F2d 1274, revd on other grounds (US) 91 L Ed 2d 174, 106 S Ct 2485) and (disagreed with Cruz v Maritime Co. of Philippines (CA2 NY) 702 F2d 47 (disagreed with Pereira v Utah Transport, Inc. (CA9 Cal) 764 F2d 686, cert dismd (US) 89 L Ed 2d 362, 106 S Ct 1253)).

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