Articles Posted in Admiralty & Maritime Law

by
In this admiralty law case, a certain vessel - taken out of service, subjected to a twenty-month conversion process, and unable to engage in transportation during the entirety of the claimant’s onboard employment - was “out of navigation” as a matter of law and thus outside the Jones Act. Kelvin Gold, an employee of Helix Energy Solutions Group, reported injuries suffered aboard the HELIX 534 and sued Helix for additional maintenance-and-cure benefits, as well as actual and punitive damages. Gold claimed those remedies under the Jones Act as a “seaman” aboard a “vessel in navigation.” During the entire time Gold worked aboard the 534 the ship lacked the ability to navigate on her own due to the overhaul of her engines. The trial court granted summary judgment for Helix, concluding that the 534 was not a vessel in navigation under undergoing the overhaul. The court of appeals reversed, finding a fact question. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s summary judgment, holding as a matter of law that the 534 was not in navigation and therefore that the Jones Act did not apply during the course of Gold’s employment. View "Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Gold" on Justia Law

by
Respondent was injured while working on board a dredging vessel operated by Petitioner. Respondent sued Respondent under the Jones Act, arguing that he was injured working under a specific order. Under maritime law, when a seaman is carrying out a specific order, his damages may not be reduced by a finding of contributory negligence. A jury found Respondent was working under a specific order when he was injured and awarded him damages. The jury also found Respondent fifty percent at fault for his injures, but based on the specific-order finding, the trial court did not reduce Respondent’s award. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) trial courts have the discretion to set a deadline for charge objections that falls before the reading of the charge to the jury, and the trial court in this case acted within its discretion in refusing to hear a last-minute charge objection, as the trial court provided a reasonable amount of time for counsel to examine and object to the change; and (2) sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding that Respondent was following a specific order when he was injured. View "King Fisher Marine Serv., LP v. Tamez" on Justia Law

by
A corporation invited guests to a business retreat at the corporation’s expense at a lodge near the Gulf of Mexico. The lodge provided the guests with bay fishing from small boats. The corporation provided alcoholic beverages on the boats at the guests’ request. After one guest spent some time on the boat, returned to the lodge, and left to drive home, the guest struck a motorcycle ridden by the plaintiffs, who were severely injured. The plaintiffs sued the corporation, alleging that it negligently allowed the guest to drink excessively. Because Texas law does not recognize such social host liability, the plaintiffs asserted that federal maritime law applied in this case because, before the accident, the guest became intoxicated while on the fishing boat. The court of appeals concluded that maritime law applied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the tests set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jerome B. Grubart, Inc. v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., the action did not fall within admiralty jurisdiction. View "Schlumberger Tech. Corp. v. Arthey" on Justia Law