Plaintiff was injured when he allegedly fell from a defective rope ladder while working on a barge. He filed a lawsuit against his employer, Weber Marine, alleging negligence under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness of the barge, and seeking maintenance and cure. In the alternative, he sought damages under Section 905(b) of the LHWCA. Weber Marine filed two Motions for Summary Judgment. The first motion argued that plaintiff would be unable to support his claims for Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness, or 905(b) vessel negligence at trial. In support of the motion, Weber Marine asserted that the ladder was in good working order, the accident was unwitnessed, and that it did not own the barge in question. In its second motion, Weber Marine argued the plaintiff was not a Jones Act seaman and was instead a maritime worker covered by the LHWCA.
The district court judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted both of Weber Marine’s motions. In holding plaintiff was not a Jones Act seaman, the Court determined his claims for Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure were moot. Furthermore, the Court recognized that while a maritime worker has a tort-based cause of action against his employer by virtue of Section 905(b), the plaintiff had failed to raise any facts supporting his claim for negligence. The Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice and instructed him to pursue any claim he may have under the LHWCA before the U.S. Department of Labor.
Bourgeois v. Weber Marine