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Home Jones Act Federal Circuits’ & State Decisions David Anthony Mier v. Wood Towing LLC, et al.

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Jones Act - Federal Circuits' & State Decisions
Sunday, 04 October 2009 14:43
Case Name: David Anthony Mier v. Wood Towing LLC, et al.
Date Decided: September 9, 2009
Court: U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Louisiana
Judge: Judge Lemmon
Citation: 2009 WL 2922315 (E.D.La.)

Plaintiff, David Anthony Mier ("Mier") alleged that while a crew member of defendant's, Wood Towing LLC ("Wood Towing") vessel he slipped and fell in a slippery substance on a barge owned by ARTCO. Mier alleged unseaworthiness, negligence, and that he is entitled to maintenance and cure.



Wood Towing has moved for partial summary judgment dismissing the negligence and unseaworthiness claim while ARTCO moved for summary judgment to dismiss Mier's claims under general maritime law.

Did the Court grant the defendants' motions for summary judgment?

Wood Towing claimed that Mier's testimony at his deposition established that his slip and fall were caused solely by Mier's own negligence and inattentiveness to an open and obvious condition. Wood Towing stated that Mier had been on the barge earlier in the day with plenty of opportunity to observe the slippery area and that because Mier has testified he is an experienced deckhand he should have noticed it.

Mier's co-worker testified that the puddle did not appear to be slippery and Mier further contended that Wood Towing had a duty to inspect the barge prior to plaintiff's fall.

The Court dismissed Mier's claims of unseaworthiness but denied Wood Towing's motion for summary judgment against Mier's Jones Act claims.

Second, ARTCO denied owing a duty to Mier because it was unaware of any hazardous condition on the barge at the time of plaintiff's accident and because it had no way of knowing that such existed.
However, Mier contended that ARTCO's inspection report, from 15 days earlier, contained a blank section relative to the barge's deck and whether it was clean.

Accordingly, this Court denied ARTCO's motion for summary judgment because it was unable to determine, based on the facts presented, whether ARTCO had a duty to Mier.

Under some circumstances, a Jones Act employer's duty toward his employee may include a "duty to inspect the third party's property for hazards and to take precautions to protect the employee from possible defects".

The plaintiff here was able to introduce evidence creating genuine issues of material fact whether the defendant had a duty to inspect and make sure the barge, owned by a third party, was safe to work on.

Steve Gordon

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:54

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