On April 18, 2014, counsel for Jennifer Dize, the personal representative of the Estate of William Smith Dize, filed a interesting and very well-written petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States. The issue:
To qualify as a “seaman” under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, a maritime worker who “contribute[s] to the function of [a] vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission” must have “a connection to a vessel in navigation (or to an identifiable group of such vessels) that is substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature.” Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis, 515 U.S. 347, 368 (1995) (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted). In assessing “substantiality,” this Court has endorsed a “rule of thumb” that, ordinarily, a qualifying seaman must spend 30 percent or more of his time in service of a vessel in navigation, id. at 371, but this Court has never specified the types of activities that count toward that 30-percent threshold.
The question presented is:
When applying the Chandris 30-percent rule, may a court consider the time a maritime worker spends in the service of a vessel in navigation that is moored, dockside, or ashore, as the Third, Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits have held, or must a court categorically exclude such time, as the Eleventh Circuit and the Maryland Court of Appeals have held?
A copy of the Maryland Court of Appeals’ decision, Dize v. Ass’n of Md. Pilots, is available here.
Note: Keep an eye on Dize. This is a case that the Supreme Court could accept.