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December 2014 Archives

Ship's owner plays vital role in providing for safety of commercial fishermen

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consistently ranks the commercial fishing industry as one of the most dangerous of all U.S. industries. The safety and health of individuals who work on commercial fishing ships are often at the mercy of both the weather and a ship's owner.

Horizon Lines -End of Long History

Horizon Lines announced at the end of last week that subject to regulatory approval it intends to sell its business to rival Matson, including its Alaska operations, and its Hawaii service to the Pasha Group - a California-based transport and logistics company that currently operates a ro/ro service to Hawaii.

Jones Act Under Attack

December has been a busy month for opponents and proponents of the Jones Act. On Dec. 5th Senator McCain called for "Deregulation of the American Maritime Industry, citing a 2002 study published by the United States International Trade Commission which, "suggested that a repeal of the Jones Act would reduce shipping costs by 22 percent...[and] would have an annual positive effect on the economy of 656 million dollars."

Seaman Status-2

With respect to the second, or substantial connection prong of the test, Supreme court emphasized that the "fundamental purpose" of this requirement is "to separate the sea-based maritime employees who are entitled to Jones Act protection from those land-based workers who have only a transitory or sporadic connection to a vessel in navigation, and therefore whose employment does not regularly expose them to the perils of the sea."

Seaman Status

Court's have continue to struggle towards a working criteria to mark the boundaries between seamen and land workers. The difference is important in regard to filing a claim for bodily injury. Those having seaman status are afforded the right to sue an employer for full tort damages which include past and future wage and related economic losses and pain and suffering. These rights arise under a federal statute known as the Jones Act 46 (USCA ยง30104) and under the General Maritime Law. The former allows a negligence based action, the latter an "unseaworthiness action". Those not having seaman status are limited to compensation under a State or Federal Workers' Compensation statute. Workers compensation statutes do not allow compensation for pain and suffering and allow only limited coverage for wage and economic losses. Other important differences between the two schemes are 1) filing dates, statutes of limitations and criteria to establish the claim.

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