Worker’s Three-Year Break in Service Undermines His Jones Act Claim

In August, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling out of the Southern District of Texas that an oil rig worker’s three-year break in service negated his status as a seaman, making him ineligible for relief under the Jones Act.

Ricky Abram filed a Jones Act lawsuit against Nabors Offshore Corporation, the company for which he worked from 1994 to 2002 and from 2005 to 2009. He sustained an on-the-job injury during his second stint of employment. The appeals court identified 2005 to 2009 as the relevant period for determining Abram’s seaman status, citing a case in which an employee’s four-month hiatus from work “was a significant enough break to require a separate evaluation of duties during the re-employment period to determine seaman status at the time of the accident.”

Therefore, even though Abram worked on vessels during his initial term of employment, because he did not work on vessels during the applicable period of 2005 to 2009, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of Abram’s Jones Act case on the basis he was not a seaman at the time of his accident.

Were you injured while performing work for an offshore company? An experienced Boston maritime attorney has the requisite knowledge to determine your eligibility for filing a Jones Act claim. Non-maritime attorneys may not be familiar with the Jones Act or case law surrounding it, which can lead to costly mistakes.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston Jones Act lawyers