Member Alan G. Brackett and Associate Hannah A. Crosby are co-writers for the “Attorney Analysis” column for Reuters Legal News. Their most recent article, “Decisions in 2021 offer insight into courts’ treatment of longshore claims under § 905(b),” was published on April 13, 2022. Following is an excerpt from the article, which you can continue reading on Reuters Legal News. You can also download a PDF of the entire article at the link below.
Decisions in 2021 offer insight into courts’ treatment of longshore claims under § 905(b)
Despite a seemingly clear articulation of what standard of negligence is imposed upon a vessel owner to a third-party longshoreman, judicial decisions in 2021 suggest a disconnect in applying the standard of care owed in these types of claims.
Section 905(b) — A brief history
As a general principle, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) serves as a no-fault compensation scheme and bars negligence actions by employees against their employers and co-employees. Under certain circumstances, however, the injured employee retains the general maritime law right to sue a vessel owner for its negligence. The general maritime law has always allowed an action for injuries caused by a vessel owner’s lack of reasonable care under the circumstances. The 1972 amendments to the LHWCA codified that general maritime law right for injured longshoremen to allow negligence actions, even though longshoremen no longer had the right to pursue an action for the unseaworthiness of a vessel.
33 U.S.C. § 905(b) provides: