Federal Court Upholds Removal of Jones Act Lawsuit and Cross Claim

Alan G. Brackett and Wilton E. Bland, IV successfully opposed Plaintiff’s motion to remand and sever two claims from federal court to state court. The Plaintiff, a marsh buggy operator, filed a Jones Act lawsuit against his employer in a Louisiana state court. Eventually, plaintiff amended his petition to add two insurance companies that provided coverage to the employer.

Messrs. Bracket and Bland, IV filed a cross claim on behalf of one insurer against the second insurer, alleging that the second insurer was partially responsible for defense of the main demand. The plaintiff dismissed his claims against the second insurer, but the cross claim remained pending. The second insurer then removed the entire case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, arguing that an arbitration clause in the policy was governed by international treaty. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand the main demand back to state court and sever the cross claim so that it could remain within the jurisdiction of the federal court.

Judge Susie Morgan found that the Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and its associated statute contained a broad removal provision that encompassed both Plaintiff’s main demand and the cross claim. Despite the general rule that Jones Act claims were not removable, the court found that these claims were properly removed to federal court in this instance. Accordingly, Judge Morgan maintained jurisdiction over the cross claim and denied Plaintiff’s motion to sever the cross claim from the main demand.

Gautreaux v. Tassin International, Inc.

Wilton E. Bland, IV