In a recent case involving a maritime personal injury claim, Anthony v. Deep South Airboats, LLC, a longshore worker’s exclusive remedy against a non-employer vessel owner was a negligence action pursuant to Section 905(b) of the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
ANTHONY V. DEEP SOUTH AIRBOATS, LLC – BACKGROUND
Kendrick Anthony, a longshore worker employed by non-party, Weeks Marine, was being transported to his worksite
Kendrick Anthony, a longshore worker employed by non-party, Weeks Marine, was being transported to his worksite near Port Fouchon and West Belle Pass in Louisiana on a vessel owned and operated by non-employer, Deep South, when the vessel struck a sandbar, throwing Anthony out of the boat and onto an adjacent island causing him to sustain personal injuries. Anthony filed suit in federal court in admiralty against Deep South, alleging negligence and unseaworthiness. The complaint also mentions res ipsa loquitur and respondeat superior as methods of imposing liability on Deep South. Anthony additionally demanded a jury trial.
Deep South filed a responsive motion to dismiss and motion to strike the jury demand, arguing that as a longshoreman, Anthony’s remedies were confined to those prescribed by Section 905(b); and that all other causes of action set forth in the complaints must be dismissed, including unseaworthiness. Deep South also contended that res ipsa loquitur and respondeat superior should also be dismissed as neither are independent causes of action. Deep South further argued that, should the Court not dismiss the complaint in its entirety, it should at least dismiss those claims that fall outside of Section 905(b). Finally, Deep South contended that Anthony was not entitled to a jury trial on his Section 905(b) claims due to his longshoreman status.
THE COURT’S RULING
Judge Ashe ultimately dismissed Anothy’s unseaworthiness claim, reasoning that the exclusive remedy provided against the vessel for longshore workers covered by the LHWCA is based on negligence under Scindia. The judge specifically found that the scope of Anthony’s Section 905(b) negligence claim against Deep South was limited to the breach of the three duties described by the Supreme Court in Scindia Steam Navigation Co. v. De Los Santos, 451 U.S. 156 (1981):
- The “turnover duty,” which relates to the condition of the ship upon the commencement of stevedoring operations.
- The “active control duty” is applicable once stevedoring operations have begun and provides that a shipowner must exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries to longshoremen in areas that remain under the “active control of the vessel.”
- The “duty to intervene,” which concerns the vessel’s obligations with regard to cargo operations in areas under the principal control of the independent stevedore.
Howlett v. Birkdale Shipping Co., 512 U.S. 92, 98 (1994) (quoting Scindia, 451 U.S. at 167-68) (citations omitted).
The court granted Deep South’s Motion to Dismiss as to any claims that did not arise under Section 905(b), including the unseaworthiness claim. However, Judge Ashe did not dismiss the allegations of res ipsa loquitur and respondeat superior, stating that these are not independent causes of action; but instead, they are legal theories in support of negligence. Judge Ashe also struck Anthony’s jury demand as the claim under Section 905(b) is based on general maritime law and does not confer a right to a jury trial.
Anthony v. Deep South Airboats, LLC, No. 21-1070, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186507 (E.D. La. Sept. 29, 2021)