Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Seaman Status Test in 5th Circuit

On March 10, 2014, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that a land-based vessel repair supervisor was entitled to status as a Jones Act seaman. Elevating Boats, LLC operates 26-30 lift boats out of Houma, Louisiana. Larry Naquin, Sr., a vessel repair supervisor was seriously injured while testing one of the shipyard cranes at the shipyard. In the decision Naquin was able to recover under the Jones Act even though:
  • Naquin rarely spent the night aboard a vessel;
  • He was a shore-based repair supervisor who worked at a shipyard
  • The vessels where Naquin worked were ordinarily docked; and
  • Naquin never ventured out into the immediate canal area or onto open sea. Seaman status used the two-prong test from Chandris v. Latsis.
A worker must prove that :
  1. his job contributes to the function of the vessel or accomplishment of its mission
  2. that his connection to a vessel in navigation is substantial in duration and nature.
In this case the court quickly determined that Naquin spent 70% of his time repairing and operating cranes and other equipment aboard the lift boats (even though it was at the dock), Naquin could satisfy the requirement.