State Maritime Employees Barred from Jones Act Suit

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The Supreme Court of the State of Alaska ruled that a state-employed seaman injured on job may not recover against the state for alleged personal injuries in an action under the federal Jones Act. In the instant case, plaintiff was employed as a crew member on an Alaska state ferry. He was allegedly injured while working when the vessel was underway. When the state handled the injury under the state’s worker’s compensation system, plaintiff brought a declaratory judgment action in state court, asserting that the state law asserting sovereign immunity in these type cases violated the Alaska Constitution and the United States Constitution. The court held that the provision in the Alaska Constitution regarding waiver of sovereign immunity is not absolute; that federal law defers to state assertions of sovereign immunity; and that plaintiff’s rights to due process and equal protection were not violated. Glover v. State of Alaska, No. S-12220 (HK Law)

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