Seaman sues four defendants in Jones Act case

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 30, 2008, 12:00pm

M/V Ms Mary

Clint Guidry, a Louisiana resident, was working as a seaman aboard the M/V Ms Mary when he became injured.

Guidry filed suit against C&G Boats Inc., C&G Marine Service Inc., MNM Boats Inc. and Freeport-McMoran Energy LLC, alleging the defendants failed to furnish him a safe place to work and a seaworthy vessel.

The suit was filed on June 27 in Jefferson County District Court under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal statute that, among other things, allows injured sailors to obtain damages from their employers due to negligence caused by the ship owner, captain or fellow members of the crew.

Although the Jones Act protects seamen, it is not the same as workers' compensation. It does not require payment regardless of fault. In order for a worker to recover under the Jones Act, a worker must prove some negligence or fault on the part of the vessel's owners, operators, officers, or fellow employees or by reason of any defect in the vessel, its gear, tackle or equipment.

The Jones Act does not allow claims for loss of consortium or companionship.

According to the plaintiff's original complaint, Guidry sustained "serious and permanent injuries" on Dec. 29, 2007, while working in the course and scope of his employment.

"Plaintiff would show that nothing he did or failed to do on the occasion in question caused or in any way contributed to cause his injuries," the complaint states. "To the contrary, the occurrence in which plaintiff was injured, and the injuries he sustained, were caused by the negligence … by the defendants, their agents, servants and employees who were acting in the course and scope of their employment for the defendants at all times material to this action."

Guidry claims that defendants owed to him a duty to furnish a safe place to work and a seaworthy vessel.

"Such unseaworthiness of the vessel in question caused and resulted in the injuries and damages sustained by plaintiff," the suit states.

According to the C&G Boats company Web site, the M/V Ms Mary is a 170-foot cargo vessel.

Guidry claims he was a healthy, able-bodied working man, but because of the incident has in the past and will in the future suffer physical impairment and disfigurement. He seeks compensation for past and future medical expenses.

Because of the employment relationship between the plaintiff as a member of the crew of the vessel and his employers, Guidry claims he is entitled to recover maintenance and cure for the time he has been or will be convalescing from his injuries under medical care or reaching his maximum improvement.

Under the Jones Act, injured workers are entitled to maintenance and cure regardless of who was at fault. Cure obligates the owner to pay for all reasonable medical care related to all medical conditions which manifest while one is working on a vessel until recovery from work-related injuries.

Maintenance requires employers to pay workers' land living costs equal to the manner of living offshore on the vessel while under medical care. It is generally between $15 and $40 dollars per day.

The injuries have also caused him to sustain a loss of earnings and earning capacity, Guidry claims.

According to the suit, the full extent of the damages has not been determined, but are "clearly in excess of the sum of $75,000."

Courtlan H. Maddux of John Stevenson & Associates PC in Houston is attorney-in-charge for the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Case No. A181-970

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