Seaman files Jones Act suit after back injury on ship

David Yates Jul. 9, 2008, 10:00am

Ocean-going tug and barge OSG Intrepid

A Las Vegas seaman serving aboard a vessel owned by the Overseas Shipping Group filed a Jones Act suit against his employer after hurting his back.

Warren B. Barney Jr. claims he injured his back because the OSG Intrepid, the vessel he was serving on, was unseaworthy. Barney's suit was filed July 8 in the Jefferson County District Court.

In his suit, Barney fails to describe how he hurt his back, how the OSG Intrepid was unseaworthy or how his employer was negligent and responsible for his injury.

The suit does state that he was working as a tankerman for OSG on Jan. 21, 2008, when he hurt his back because of the "defendant's negligence."

The suit does not state where the vessel was located when the injury occurred, nor does give a reason why jurisdiction is appropriate when Barney is a Las Vegas resident and OSG is a Delaware-based corporation.

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.

Under the Jones Act, Barney is suing for pain, mental anguish, medical expenses, lost wages and compensatory damages, plus all court costs.

He is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by attorney Matthew Shaffer of the Houston law firm Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E182-011

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