Jones Act Seaman
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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….”
Crowley Maritime Corp.’s ship management group has been awarded a new contract with Sunrise Operations LLC, a subsidiary of The Pasha Group, of San Rafael, Calif., for the operation, crewing and maintenance of four Jones Act ships operating between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii.
Matson, Inc. has completed the acquisition of Horizon Lines, Inc. which includes Horizon's Alaska operations and the assumption of all non-Hawaii business liabilities. Separately and immediately preceding the completion of the transaction, Horizon completed the sale of its Hawaii trade lane assets
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced the appointment of two vice presidents at its Ingalls Shipbuilding division. George Jones has been appointed vice president of operations, and Tim Farrell has been appointed vice president of new Navy programs.
A potential deep-water port LNG export project for the Gulf of Mexico has submitted applications to the Maritime Administration and the United States Coast Guard for approval. Delfin LNG LLC has submitted an application to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the United States
Ceremony signaled the start of construction for APT-4 ECO Tanker, the fourth of five Jones Act tanker ships to be constructed at NASSCO for American Petroleum Tankers. General Dynamics NASSCO signaled the start of construction of the fourth of five “ECO” tankers to be built
VT Halter Marine, Inc., a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), announced it has delivered a combination container and roll-on/roll-off car truck carrier (ConRo), MV Marjorie C, to Pasha Hawaii. The MV Marjorie C is the second U.S
General Dynamics NASSCO informs it has hosted a keel laying ceremony for the first Jones Act ECO tanker currently under construction for SEA-Vista LLC, at the company's shipyard in San Diego. Eric Fabrikant, chief operating officer of SEACOR Holdings Inc
Bouchard Transportation Co., announced the launch of Barge B. No. 270, the first of two Articulated Tug Barge (ATB) units constructed by VT Halter Marine, Inc., a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. The barge was launched at the Pascagoula Shipyard Operations in Pascagoula
United States Congressmen Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) this week received the Maritime Leadership Award from the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA), a national trade association representing the nation’s shipbuilding and repair industry
The Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA), a national trade association representing the nation’s shipbuilding and repair industry is hosting a fly-in beginning today. More than 85 members of SCA will participate to share the strength of America’s shipbuilding and repair industry
Nation's Tugboat, Towboat and Barge Industry to Call on Congress: Urge Support for Vessel Discharge Reforms, American Jobs and Waterways Reliability The American Waterways Operators (AWO), the national trade association representing the tugboat, towboat and barge industry
Congressman Garamendi Makes Case for Revitalization of American Shipbuilding Industry and American Jobs at Bay Planning Coalition Meeting in Oakland Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Calif.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and
ConRo vessel M/V Marjorie has attained main engine light off while under final construction at VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss., signaling that the ship’s complex network of systems is complete and functional prior to delivery to Honolulu-based Pasha Hawaii
WesPac Midstream LLC (WesPac) and its affiliate Clean Marine Energy LLC (CME), announced a construction contract with Conrad Orange Shipyard, Inc., a division of Conrad Shipyard, LLC, to build the first dedicated LNG bunker barge for the marine market in North America. The first 2,200 cu. m
General Dynamics NASSCO signaled the start of construction of a third "ECO" tanker to be built for American Petroleum Tankers at a steel cutting ceremony at NASSCO's San Diego-based shipyard. As part of a five-tanker contract