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Maritime and Longshore Decisions of Note

11/25/15 6:56 AM

Maritime and Longshore Decisions of Note

Alexander v. Express Energy. USCA 5th Circuit, No. 14-30488, May 7, 2015.

An offshore platform P&A worker is not a Jones Act seaman merely because a substantial number of his jobs involved the use of lift boats.

Alexander was a lead hand/operator in Express Energy’s offshore P&A (plug & abandon) department.  He was injured while working on a P&A job on an Apache fixed platform, which utilized an Aries lift boat  anchored next to the platform as a work platform and crane.  More than 35% of Alexander’s P&A jobs involved the use of an adjacent lift boat.  The district court granted summary judgment for Express, holding under Hufnagel work duties related to P&A operations on the platform did not contribute to the function of the vessel.  In a footnote the court observed Alexander also failed to satisfy the second prong of Chandris, that he spent at least 30% of his work time actually working on a vessel. The Fifth Circuit (J. Davis, Jones, Clement) affirmed on the second grounds, clarifying that (a) the fact that more than 35% of plaintiff’s P&A jobs involved lift boats is not sufficient for seaman status, and (b) the court may not aggregate time spent actually working on vessels that were not owned and controlled by the same company.

Attorney Chris Zaunbrecher practices in the areas of labor and employment law including Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act claims and Wage & Hour matters.

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