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Jones Act Seaman

Diver Down!!! An Exception to the General Test for Seaman Status?

By James P. Nader & Joseph A. Poblick Once again we take that familiar voyage know as "determining seaman status." No matter how familiar the voyage there are always changes in the currents which guide your path. Seaman status is important because only a seaman may receive maintenance and cure, and pursue a claim for Jones Act negligence or unseaworthiness. The basic requirements for seaman status are well established in maritime law. In order to qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, a person's employment duties must contribute to the mission of the vessel and be connected to an identifiable group of vessels in navigation. The United States Supreme Court has held that seaman status should be determined by the specific facts of each case. The totality of the circumstances surrounding the employee's employment must be considered in determining whether his duties had sufficient relation to the mission of the vessel and exposure to the perils of the sea. Additionally, it is typically the jury who has the responsibility to determine seaman status, and only in rare circumstances is that responsibility left up to the judge. Because juries typically decide the question of seaman status, who qualifies, it is often difficult to predict. The "diver's exception" is an example of the expansion of workers that qualify for Jones Act status


Ship Owner May Sue Injured Seaman

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a ship owner may assert a negligence and indemnity claim against its seaman-employee for property damage allegedly caused by the seaman’s negligence. In the instant case, plaintiff mate was injured when his ship collided with another ship. Plaintiff was on watch and in command of the ship at the time and allegedly left the wheelhouse in congested waters to attend to personal business


Moored Cleaning Barge is Vessel for Purposes of Jones Act

Over a vigorous dissent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that a moored cleaning barge is a vessel for purposes of the Jones Act. In the instant case, plaintiff barge cleaner was injured while being ferried from shore to his work site on a moored cleaning barge. The barge was secured in position in the Missouri River by spud poles embedded in the river bottom. The barge was relocated on occasion by being towed


Ruling on Permanently Moored Dockside Casino

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that, for purposes of the Jones Act, a permanently moored dockside casino is not a vessel in navigation and its employees are not seamen entitled to protection under the Act. In the instant case, the casino vessel was documented and inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard, but only got underway once each year for engine and maneuvering tests. The court held that the vessel was not engaged in the transportation of passengers or cargo and was


Settling With An Unrepresented Seaman Making The Settlement Stick

Unfortunately, personal injury claims brought by seamen against vessel owners are part of everyday life in running a boat company.  As such, vessel owners have become very sophisticated in the management of these claims.  As the cost of litigating these matters is very high, often, the claim's handler will attempt to settle a seaman's personal injury claim prior to his retention of counsel and filing suit.  In most cases, this is a win-win for both the employee and the company


U.S. Navy Opposes Repeal of Jones Act

The news that the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Navy League support the Jones Act and oppose its repeal was applauded by Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF), the national coalition representing the U.S.-flag fleet engaged in domestic waterborne commerce. Both organizations dedicated to the defense of the United States have reaffirmed their support for the law, which is directly responsible for half a million U.S. jobs and vital to national security. 


OMSA - Jones Act Compliance Manager

The national trade association that is the voice for the U.S. flag workboat industry has taken the unusual step of hiring an experienced investigator to collect evidence on foreign vessels that violate the U.S. law known as the Jones Act. The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) has created a new position – Manager of Jones Act Compliance – to ensure compliance with the laws requiring that vessels involved in domestic transportation be owned by Americans


Obama Supports the Jones Act

A campaign pledge of support for the Jones Act has earned President Barack Obama the cover spot on the 2008 Annual Report of the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition promoting the domestic U.S.- Flag fleet. In August 2008, then candidate Obama declared “America needs a strong and vibrant U.S.-flag Merchant Marine … That is why you … can continue to count on me to support the Jones Act….”


Grill Retires, Maritime Cabotage Task Force

Grill_web.jpg

The Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF) is thanking its retiring Chairman, Philip M. Grill, for his 14 years of leadership of the labor/management coalition that promotes the Jones Act and other U.S. maritime cabotage laws in Washington. Grill, who is retiring as Vice President – Government Relations for Matson Navigation Company, Inc., on July 31, has chaired MCTF since its founding in September 1995. Under his leadership


Nat’l Commission Says: Jones Act No Hinderance to Spill Clean Up

The January 11, 2011 report from the non-partisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling confirmed the Jones Act did not prevent foreign vessels from assisting with the clean-up effort during the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year.  “Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling” was prepared by the independent entity at the request of President Barack Obama.  


W&O Opposes McCain Amendment

John McCain (official photo)

W&O announced its opposition to the McCain Amendment (amendment #2) to S.1, which it said would cripple the U.S. shipbuilding industry by striking the U.S. build requirement provisions of the Jones Act.   “The amendment Senator John McCain has put forth would devastate


Winners of Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards Named

Sunset over the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve in Florida. One of the 2014 Walter B. Jones Awards was given for research in the reserve. (Credit Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve)

  Eleven individuals and organizations have been named as winners of the 2014 Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards for Excellence in Coastal Ocean Resource Management, an award given by NOAA’sOffice for Coastal Management for exemplary leadership and a commitment to balancing the human use


Congressmen Lead Effort to Defend US Shipbuilders

Photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) and Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4), along with 30 bipartisan House colleagues, sent a letter this week to Senate leadership urging opposition to an amendment that they say would strip domestic construction requirements that help strengthen America’s


Captains' Union Blasts McCain’s Keystone Amendment

International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots Asks: If Keystone is a “Jobs Bill” Why Would Congress Want to Send 400,000 Maritime Jobs in 26 States Overseas?    S.1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, has been described as a “jobs bill” by the


The Legal Consequences of 46 CFR Subchapter “M”

Daniel J. Fitzgerald

As the holiday season and the end of another year quickly approaches, the towing industry patiently waits for the Coast Guard to finalize the long-awaited towing vessel inspection rule.  More than 10 years ago, Congress passed the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004


How Difficult is it to Obtain a Jones Act Waiver?

The American Salvage Association’s Jon Waldron provides the ultimate cabotage primer. There always seems to be constant chatter about waiving the Jones Act. In reality, it is a simple task to demystify the thought that it is easy to obtain such waivers


Shipbuilding Regulations: Cents and Sensibility

Integrating bolted tonnage openings into forward facing door frame bulkheads fulfills the need for tonnage reduction, but the weather-tight tonnage opening renders the water-tight door less waterproof.

Addressing the Jones Act is just one aspect of an increasingly complicated boatbuilding environment. Stovepiped, poorly conceived regulations is another. The sting of the recession is fading, but the economic vitality of the marine industry is still in jeopardy


Sen. McCain Vows Jones Act will be Repealed

Senator John McCain

  Senator John McCain said a more than 90-year-old law that requires ships servicing coastal businesses to be built and mostly staffed by U.S. crews will be repealed sooner or later if lawmakers keep fighting the trade restriction. Oil refiners


Jones Act Gets Staunch Support

  The United States Congress this week enacted the strongest statement of support for the Jones Act and the American domestic maritime industry since the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. The measure was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R


SCI’s New Chapter in Maritime Training

The Simulator at the Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, KY.

On December 10, 2014, SCI launched a major initiative to transform training for America’s inland mariners at its Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, KY.   The day before its 15th Annual River Bell Awards ceremony, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) pushed the proverbial


SCI’s New Chapter in Maritime Training

Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) launched an initiative on December 10, 2014 aiming to transform training for America’s inland mariners at its Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, KY.   The day before its 15th Annual River Bell Awards ceremony


Chinese Vessel Rescues 26 from Sunken Cargo Ship

Twenty-six Filipino seamen were rescued by the crew of a Chinese vessel in Camiguin hours after their cargo ship sunk the morning of Friday, January 9, the Philippines Coast Guard reported.   The survivors were onboard LCT 378 when it was battered by big waves and strong winds at the


AMP Opposes Amendment to Eliminate US Shipbuilding

Tom Allegretti (Photo: AMP)

American Maritime Partnership (AMP) issued a statement opposing Senator John McCain’s recent measure to eliminate the U.S. shipbuilding industry. AMP said U.S. shipbuilding is critical to supporting America’s military power and defense needs employs hundreds of thousands of Americans


Lakes Defend US Build Requirement of Jones Act

Jim Weakley (Photo courtesy of LCA)

An effort to remove the U.S.-build requirement from the Jones Act is being soundly rejected by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the largest labor/management coalition ever assembled to promote shipping on America’s Fourth Sea Coast. The Task Force said it sees no benefit to allowing


OMSA Opposes McCain Amendment

Ben Billings (Photo: OMSA)

The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) issued a statement regarding Senator John McCain’s proposal allowing foreign-built vessels to take over marine transportation in the United States, stating the amendment would gut U.S. shipbuilding while outsourcing jobs and security.  






 
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