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 trial court held, on a summary judgment motion, that the barge was not a vessel in navigation and, thus, plaintiff was not a seaman for purposes of the Jones Act. The appellate court, relying on a recent Supreme Court decision, ruled that “in navigation” was not a requirement for seaman status under the Jones Act. The relevant issue is whether the vessel is practically capable of maritime transportation. The dissent contended that the issue should be remanded to the trial court for a factual determination. Bunch v. Canton Marine Towing Co., Inc., No. 04-1292 (8th Cir., August 23, 2005).
Source: HK Law