Monday, February 23, 2015

Heart Condition Not Covered by Jones Act

William C. SKYE v. MAERSK LINE 2014 - William Skye, formerly the chief mate of the Sealand Pride, suffers from left ventricular hypertrophy, which he complained that his employer, Maersk Lines, caused when it saddled him with “excessive duties and duty time” such that he was “overworked to the point of fatigue.” At trial, the jury found Maersk liable and found damages of $2,362,299.  

Between 2000 and 2008, William Skye worked on the Sealand Pride as chief mate. Skye's job duties required him to work overtime, which adversely affected his health because of fatigue, stress, and lack of sleep. Skye regularly worked between 90 and 105 hours per week for 70 or 84 days at a time. At sea, Skye worked 12 hours; in port, he might have worked “round the clock.”

By 2008, Skye's cardiologist concluded that Skye's “continued physical stress related to his job, with long hours and lack of sleep” caused his labile hypertension—intermittent high blood pressure while on the job—which, in turn, caused his left ventricular hypertrophy.

The Jones Act does not allow seaman to recover for injuries caused by work-related stress because work-related stress is not a “physical peril, and as such the jury verdict was reversed on appeal and MAERSK were not found  NOT LIABLE.