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Recent Longshore Decisions

Topic – Master/member of the crew (seaman)

Butcher v. Superior Offshore Int’l, Inc., No. 09-30211, 2009 WL 4885026 (5th Cir. Dec. 17, 2009)(unpub.).

The Fifth Circuit affirmed Plaintiff was not a Jones Act seaman as his connection to the vessel MAGGIE was not substantial in duration and nature.  Plaintiff was a painter/blaster.  It was undisputed that all of the painting and blasting work was done on the fixed platform, which is not a vessel.  Although Plaintiff performed some tasks on the vessel, these were found to be too minor even though he worked 30% of his time on board the vessel.  He was not considered a seaman.


Topic – Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act/OCSLA v. Admiralty v. State Jurisdiction

Grand-Isle Shipyard, Inc. v. Seacor Marine, LLC, 2009 WL 4597975 (5th Cir. 2009)

A company responsible for repairing and maintaining offshore platforms brought an action against a company responsible for transporting offshore workers, seeking a declaration that it was not obligated to indemnify Seacor in a lawsuit for injuries sustained by Grand Isle’s employee aboard a Seacor vessel.  The Fifth Circuit held that: (1) the focus-of-the-contract test determines the situs of the controversy in contract cases under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”); and (2) adjacent state law, in this case Louisiana, applied as surrogate federal law, thereby rendering the contract’s indemnity provision unenforceable.

Topic – Settlements – Res Judicata, Collateral Estoppel, Full Faith & Credit, Election of Remedies

Cooper v. Int’l Offshore Servs., Civil Action No. 09-4816, 2009 WL 5175216 (E.D.La. Dec. 17, 2009).

Plaintiff was injured in the course of his employment with defendants aboard a vessel owned by defendants.  The District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana held that under res judicata, the District Director’s formal compensation order approving a Section 8(i) settlement of the plaintiff’s LHWCA claim, which by its terms released defendants from “any and all claims” arising out of the injury, precluded Plaintiff’s subsequent Section 5(b) claim against defendants as vessel owners.  The court noted that an injured maritime worker may bring an action under the LHWCA against his employer for workers compensation, and against an owner for vessel negligence.

Our maritime attorneys represent injured longshoreman, crewmen, offshore rig workers, jack up rig workers, barge and tugboat operators, platform employees, and other maritime workers.  Please contact us for a free evaluation of your case.

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