|Jones Act - Federal Circuits' & State Decisions|
|Thursday, 25 February 2010 04:13|
Case Name: Errol Chouset, Jr. v. Offshore Marine, L.L.C., et al.
Date Decided: January 26, 2010
Court: U.S.D.C. E.D. Louisiana
Judge: Judge Lemelle
Citation: 2010 WL 375315
Chouset claimed he fell and injured his back on the wet paint as he returned to work. Chouset filed a claim under LHWCA, Longeshore Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, and against Offshore Marine.
Offshore Marine added Superior as a third party defendant and Chouset moved to add Superior as a direct defendant.
Superior pointed to §905(a) to stand for the proposition that an employee may elect to claim compensation under the LHWCA and therefore, Superior contended that Chouset's election is binding and prevents Superior's liability in tort.
This Court however, found 905(a) inapplicable to this issue. This Court recognized that under §905(a) an injured employee may proceed under the LHWCA or under tort if any employer fails to secure payment of compensation as required by this chapter.
905(a) deals with an employer who has declined to procure insurance or otherwise failed to compensate an employee entitled to coverage under the LHWCA.
Superior's position, this Court reasoned, would tag Chouset as an independent contractor and remove recovery under LHWCA completely.
Ultimately this Court found that the Jones Act claim, in which Superior is a third party defendant, is not stayed by LHWCA proceedings. Chouset's status, as a seaman or not, can be resolved by cross motions for summary judgment unless material factual disputes arise.
Accordingly, this Court found Superior's claim is ripe for hearing.
The LHWCA is a statutorily-defined scheme to allow agency expertise to adjudicated and review all claims by land-based maritime workers.
First, a claim is brought before an Administrative Law Judge under §919(c), an appeal of the ALJ's finding may be brought pursuant to §921(b) to the Benefits Review Board (BRB). If an employee/employer is not satisfied with the ruling of the BRB, then they may appeal, to a court of appeals under §921(c).
Employer liability is exclusively constrained to this administrative proceeding under the LHWCA. All other liabilities between an employer and land based maritime employee are pre-empted.