HomeCircuit Court Admiralty CasesJones Act
Jones Act

The following are digests and case links to Circuit Court Admiralty Cases that have as an issue the Jones Act:

Hopkins v. Jordan Marine, Inc.
First Circuit Court of Appeals
October 29, 2001

Jones Act/Seaworthiness: Although the district court at one point told the jury: "If you find that the plaintiff's alleged injuries were the result of his failing to observe an obvious condition, you will find for the defendant," this was not an impermissible instruction based on the doctrine of "assumption of the risk." The sentence does not say that assumption of an obvious risk is a defense to unseaworthiness or negligence on the part of the shipowner, but said that a ship is not unseaworthy or an owner negligent merely because the owner does not anticipate that a crew member will behave negligently. 

Stewart v. Dutra Construction
First Circuit Court of Appeals
October 31, 2000

Jones Act: A dredge engaged in the excavation of a tunnel in the Boston Harbor, which was used primarily as an extension of land for the purpose of securing heavy equipment and was not in transit at the time of injury, is not a "vessel in navigation" for purposes of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. app. § 688, thus plaintiff's personal injury claim under the Jones Act was properly dismissed.

O'Hara v. Weeks Marine
April 1, 2002
Second Circuit Court of Appeals

Jones Act: To establish seaman status, an employee must establish his or her (1) 'employment-related connection," (2) to a "vessel in navigation." An "employment-related connection" to a vessel exists if two conditions are satisfied: First, the "worker's duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission"; second, the worker's connection to the vessel must be "substantial in both its duration and its nature." Plaintiff was not a seaman because his connection to a vessel was insufficiently substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature.  While Plaintiff spent more than half his working hours during a five-month period aboard the barges, he spent all of that time performing tasks related to repair of the Staten Island pier, while the barges were secured to the pier. Plaintiff further produced no evidence that he derives his livelihood from "sea-based activities." Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: The district court was in error in dismissing Plaintiff's 905(b) claim against Weeks as a vessel owner since a reasonable jury could find based upon the evidence presented that Weeks breached either the "duty to intervene" or the "active control" duty. Weeks further is not entitled to the immunity afforded dual-capacity employers under 905(b) since it was only the vessel owner, not both the employer and vessel owner.

Mooney v. City of New York
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
May 22, 2000

Jones Act: A formal workers' compensation award that settles all of the plaintiff's  claims in their entirety waives the plaintiff's Jones Act claim, thus the case will be remanded to the District Court to determine if a waiver took place, which would bar plaintiff from pursuing a Jones Act claim.

Fanos v. Maersk Line
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 10, 2004

Jones Act (Penalty Wages): There are two prongs used to determine the application of the wage penalty statute: (1) whether the master or owner refused to pay wages within the specified period, and (2) whether this failure to pay was without sufficient cause. See also 46 U.S.C. § 10313.  Here neither prong was met since, first, the wages were not withheld by the master or owner, but by the union's vacation plan. Second, "without sufficient cause" means "either conduct which is in some sense arbitrary or willful, or at least a failure not attributable to impossibility of payment." Here there was sufficient cause since the wages were withheld pursuant to a memorandum of understanding between the union and the owner.

Francisco v. MT Stolt Achievement
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 4, 2002

Jones Act/Arbitration: The district court properly ordered plaintiff foreign seaman's personal injury claim to arbitration since plaintiff's employment contract containing the arbitration provision was covered by the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 9 U.S.C. §§ 201-208, which does not contain an exclusion for seamen employment contracts as does the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16.

Nunez v. B & B Dredging
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 23, 2002

Jones Act: A land-based employee who is permanently assigned to work in the service of a vessel as a dredge dump foreman, but who spends only 10% of his time working aboard the vessel, is not a Jones Act seaman.

In re the Complaint of the Endeavor Marine
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
December 11, 2000

Jones Act: A crane operator assigned to a derrick barge was a Jones Act seaman because: (1) he was permanently assigned to the barge and had spent almost all of the prior eighteen months on the barge before the accident; (2) his primary responsibility was to operate the cranes on board the barge, which had the sole purpose of loading and unloading cargo vessels; and (3) he was regularly exposed to the perils of the sea in the course of his employment.

Owens v. Seariver Marine
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
November 26, 2001 (Revised)

Jones Act: The definitions of seamen under the Jones Act and under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") are separate and independent of each other; under the FLSA, work is seaman's work if it is rendered primarily as an aid in the operation of a vessel as a means of transportation. Because the primary purpose of Plaintiff's position was to load and unload petroleum from barges, he was not a seaman for purposes of the FLSA's seaman's exclusion and could therefore claim under the Act's maximum hour and overtime provisions.

Rusty Roberts v. Cardinal Services, Inc.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
October 2, 2001

Jones Act: Since Plaintiff failed to show that at least 30 percent of his time was spent on a vessel or vessels under the common ownership or control of his employer, he was not "substantially connected" to a vessel or fleet of vessels such that he could recover as a seaman under the Jones Act.

Jackson v. OMI Co.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 4, 2001

Jones Act/Seaworthiness: The district court's findings that the vessel owner was negligent and that the vessel was unseaworthy were clearly erroneous since there was no evidence to support such findings where the plaintiff seaman had stumbled over a hatch coaming and fallen simply because he did not pick his feet up high enough. The district court's finding that the vessel was unseaworthy for lack of a handhold at the doorway was clearly erroneous since the evidence showed that the design of the doorway in question was dictated by federal regulations, there was no evidence indicating where such a handrail might be placed or that the installation of a handrail would reduce accident rates and the record was uncontroverted that crew members passing through the doorway can use the usual structural members ordinarily found on vessel passageways as steadying points.

Martinez v. Bally's Louisiana
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 26, 2001

Jones Act: For a sexual harassment claim to be compensable under the Jones Act, the plaintiff must prove physical injury or physical manifestations of emotional injury, thus since plaintiff, an employee of a gambling ship, only alleged that the acts of her employer caused her great worry and stress, the district court properly dismissed the claim.

Jackson v. North Bank Towing
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 2, 2000

Jones Act: Seaman's foreign law tort claims brought in federal district court must be dismissed on res judicata grounds since they had previously been dismissed by a Louisiana state court. (Note: this decision vacates the Court's January 31, 2000 decision which held that the Jones Act did not bar a foreign seaman from bringing maritime claims pursuant to foreign law in US courts.)

Romain v. Industrial Fabrication
Fifth Circuit Circuit Court of Appeals
February 22, 2000

Jones Act: An offshore oil worker was not a Jones Act seaman since he did not work aboard an identifiable fleet of vessels.

Jackson v. North Bank Towing Co.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 31, 2000

Jones Act: The plain meaning of 46 U.S.C. 688 does not bar a foreign seaman from bringing maritime claims pursuant to foreign law in US courts. (Subsequently vacated.)

Rannals v. Diamond Jo Casino
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 12, 2001

Jones Act: The district court in granting summary judgment for defendant ship owner erred in finding that plaintiff seaman failed to create a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether her injuries were caused, in whole or part, by owner's or its agents' failure to cure or eliminate an unreasonably dangerous condition in her workplace about which they knew or should have known (the alleged dangerous condition was a patch of ice at the Great Lakes Region Training Center parking lot where plaintiff had gone for ship related training).

Perkins v. American Electric Power
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 6, 2001

Jones Act: The district court erred in denying plaintiff recovery since he proved vessel negligence by establishing that defendants knew of the risk that the ratchet he was using at the time of his injury could fail and also knew that a seaman could fall from the tow knee where he was working since another seaman on the tug and barge had fallen from the tow knee one month earlier, nevertheless defendants failed to adequately guard against these risks. Seaworthiness: The district court also erred in denying plaintiff recovery based on unseaworthiness since he proved that defendants failed to provide vessel equipment, in this case a ratchet, reasonably fit for its intended purpose and failed to provide adequate safety equipment, such as a safety rope, for his safety.

Greenwell v. Aztar Indiana Gaming Co.
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
October 4, 2001

Jones Act/Maintenance & Cure: Since plaintiff casino boat employee dropped her allegation that she had had been injured at work onboard the vessel, her medical malpractice claim against her employer, which was based the employer's Jones Act and maintenance & cure obligations and the doctrine of respondeat superior, should have been dismissed on the merits. Procedure: Plaintiff did not allege an admiralty claim under Rule 9(h) and thus could not use the third party vouching in mechanism of Rule 14(c), but this did not prevent her from using the non-admiralty third party claim procedure under Rule 14(a). 

Weaver v. Hollywood Casino-Aurora
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
June 21, 2001

Admiralty Jurisdiction/Jones Act: A party seeking to invoke federal admiralty jurisdiction over a personal injury claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.1333(1) and pursuant to the the Jones Act must satisfy conditions of location on navigable waters and of connection with maritime activity. Since the record indicated that the portion of the river where the casino boat was located may not have been navigable in fact, the case was remanded so that the district court could determine whether subject matter jurisdiction existed.

Zyblut v. Harvey's Iowa Management
Eighth Circuit Court of Apppeals
March 25, 2004

Jones Act/Seamen's Claims: Admiralty law does not preempt plaintiff seaman's claim under state law for wrongful discharge. Under Iowa state law, to prevail on a tort claim for a discharge in violation of public policy, an employee must show (1) a clearly defined public policy protected an activity; (2) the policy was undermined by discharging the employee; (3) the discharge was the result of engaging in the protected activity; and (4) there was no other justification for the discharge. The court concluded there was no clearly defined public policy protecting plaintiff's activity. First, federal maritime law does not provide a clear public policy against violating 46 U.S.C. § 8101 (addressing manning of vessels). Second, although Iowa recognizes a public policy against terminating an employee who refuses to violate the law, plaintiff never refused to falsify the vessel log books, nor did he complain to the Coast Guard. Further, plaintiff was not actually discharged, but voluntarily left his employment after continually, albeit reluctantly, violating the law.

Britton v. U.S.S Great Lakes Fleet
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 9, 2002

Maintenance and Cure: Where a seaman is required to provide pre-employment
medical information, and he intentionally misrepresents or conceals material medical facts, he is not entitled to an award of maintenance and cure if the injury incurred is causally linked to the concealed medical condition. However, the employer must show that the non-disclosed medical information was material to its decision to hire the seaman to successfully defend against maintenance and cure. Since there was an issue of fact in this case whether the non-disclosed condition was material to the owner's decision to hire plaintiff, the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's claim on motion for summary judgment. Seaworthiness: Unseaworthiness is a claim under general maritime law based on the vessel owner’s duty to ensure that the vessel is reasonably fit to be at sea. The warranty of seaworthiness requires that the ship, including the hull, decks, and machinery, be reasonably fit for the purpose for which they are used. Plaintiff's allegation that the vessel was unseaworthy because there was a shortage of crew available to open the stairwell covers and vent hatches, which lead to his having to perform those tasks alone resulting in his back injury, was sufficient to raise an issue of fact to be resolved by a jury. Jones Act: Plaintiff's allegation that the health care provider assigned by the owner failed to exercise due care when reassigning plaintiff back to work was a sufficient allegation of Jones Act negligence to be resolved by a jury.

Martinez v. Signature Seafoods
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 11, 2002

Jones Act: A seaworthy fish processing barge that is towed across navigable waters twice a year can qualify as a "vessel in navigation" for certain purposes of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 688.

In re Marine Asbestos Cases
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 10, 2001

Jones Act/Maintenance & Cure/Seaworthiness: Plaintiff seamen, none of whom had been diagnosed with an asbestos-related medical condition, had no claim under the Jones Act or under the doctrines of seaworthiness and maintenance & cure for the costs of medical monitoring that would provide each plaintiff with a single baseline medical examination.

Simeonoff v. M/V Saga
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 8, 2001

Jones Act/Comparative Negligence: A seaman may not be held contributorily negligent for carrying out orders that result in injury, even if the seaman recognizes possible danger and does not delay to consider a safer alternative. Further, a seaman who responds to a superior's urgent call for help cannot be found contributorily negligent, thus the plaintiff, who knew of the dangers when he responded to the call of assistance from the engineer in fixing a pot launcher, was not contributorily negligent when the pot launcher gave way, fell and crushed his foot. Damages: The court's economic damage award was sufficiently detailed and supported by the evidence and the court's non-economic damage award of $18,900 for pain and suffering was not inadequate, was supported by the evidence and did not shock the conscience. Damages (Prejudgment Interest): In personal injury cases under admiralty jurisdiction, prejudgment interest must be granted unless peculiar circumstances justify its denial. Thus the matter of prejudgment interest would be remanded to the district court to articulate its reasons for denying that interest. 

Orsini v. O/S Seabrooke
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 24, 2001

Settlement Agreements/Releases/Jones Act: Courts scrutinize the validity of a seaman's release under principles of admiralty law analogous to the duty owed by a fiduciary to a beneficiary, not solely under principles of contract law. The Supreme Court in Garrett v. Moore-McCormack Co.  established a two-part test in determining the enforceability of a seaman's release: (1) whether the release was executed freely, without deception or coercion; and (2) whether it was made by the seaman with full understanding of his rights. In applying the second part of this test, a court considers the adequacy of the consideration, the nature of the medical advice available to the seaman at the time of signing the release and the nature of the legal advice available to the seaman at the time of signing the release. In applying this test, the Circuit Court declined to enforce the seaman's release since Plaintiff had no independent legal advice and the medical advice he received before signing the release was inaccurate.

Sea-Land Service v. Sellan
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
October 26, 2000

Settlement Agreements/Jones Act: The previous settlement agreement between plaintiff seaman and defendant vessel owner which prohibited plaintiff from future employment with defendant is enforceable, thus plaintiff's Jones Act claim for personal injury damage arising during plaintiff's surreptitious re-employment was properly dismissed.

About the WWW Virtual Library  |  Disclaimer  |   Feedback
© Todd Kenyon. All rights reserved.