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Jones Act Seaman Vs. Noble Drilling (US) LLC.

Doyle LLP is proud to announce another court victory in a Jones Act, maritime/admiralty, and maintenance and cure legal matter. On February 20, 2020, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, in Houston, Texas announced an opinion affirming a jury award (from the 269th District Court of Texas) won by Doyle LLP on behalf of a Jones Act seaman who was injured offshore while working for Noble Drilling (US) LLC.

In this maritime personal-injury case, Noble Drilling (US) LLC challenged a jury award finding that Noble Drilling’s drilling vessel, the M/V Noble Tom Madden, was unseaworthy, under general maritime law, and that Noble Drilling had wrongfully and arbitrarily denied maintenance and cure owed to an injured shaker hand, Plaintiff . The jury awarded damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost earning capacity, future medical expenses, and attorneys’ fees because Noble Drilling’s refusal to pay maintenance and cure was arbitrary and capricious and willful and wanton, as defined by general maritime law and admiralty law.

Due to the failure to ensure proper communication on the vessel Tom Madden and the failure to assign proper manpower on the vessel, Plaintiff suffered a serious foot injury, including peroneal tendon subluxation and plantar fasciitis, that resulted in a surgery recommendation by his treating orthopedist. Specifically, Noble Drilling failed to assign sufficient manpower or crewmembers to work in the shaker house and mud room, which left Plaintiff overworked and ascending and descending the vessel stairs repeatedly throughout the work day. This overuse caused his serious foot injury. Nonetheless, Noble refused to authorize the surgical treatment and refused to pay lost wages, which are owed to an injured seaman under the duty to pay maintenance and cure, as required by maritime law, admiralty law, and the Jones Act.

Under the Jones Act and general maritime law, a vessel is unseaworthy, if the vessel owner or Jones Act employer does not assign sufficient manpower to a task. Moreover, under long standing maritime law and admiralty law, a ship owner and Jones Act employer owe maintenance and cure on a no-fault basis to a seaman who is injured while working on a vessel. Maintenance is a partial payment of lost wages and living expenses, and cure is the cost of medical treatments. A Jones Act employer and vessel owner owe maintenance and cure until an injured seaman reaches maximum cure, which means that he or she is medically recovered from the injuries. The court’s opinion announcing Doyle LLP’s victory outlined these important maritime and admiralty law requirements.

The appellate opinion was written by Justice Tracy Christopher and joined by Chief Justice Frost and Justice Bourliot. A copy of the opinion is available on the website for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals at:

http://www.search.txcourts.gov/SearchMedia.aspx?MediaVersionID=b88a8cf7-cc20-4622-99ca-5d0b7af4cc78&coa=coa14&DT=Opinion&MediaID=a448f30a-883a-4740-923a-59bfb78ac8b7

The appellate victory ended a long legal battle waged by Doyle LLP against Noble Drilling and its team of lawyers. Doyle LLP is proud of the years spent fighting for Plaintiff and this significant maritime law and Jones Act victory.

If you or someone you know was injured offshore, you may have legal rights under the Jones Act, maritime law, admiralty law, the doctrine of unseaworthiness, or the duty to pay maintenance and cure. This sophisticated area of law requires the knowledge and experience of lawyers like those at Doyle LLP. If you have questions about your potential legal claim, call us for a no-cost evaluation.

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