US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
Johnson v. Cooper T. Smith Stevedoring
Opinion Date: July 14, 2023
Judge: Dana M. Douglas
Areas of Law: Admiralty & Maritime Law, Civil Procedure, Personal Injury
Plaintiff worked as a longshoreman as early as 1998 and worked regularly for Cooper from 2008 through the date of his injury on June 22, 2018, never going more than a week and a half without working. He performed various jobs including operating a front-end loader and track hoe, flagging cranes, and loading barges. Employer classified Plaintiff as a non-assigned employee, meaning he was not assigned to a specific vessel. Employer has other employees who are assigned to vessels.
Plaintiff was hurt when he fell to the deck of a ship he was working on. He filed suit against Employer in federal district court in November 2020, alleging that he was a seaman and a member of the crew, and bringing claims of Jones Act negligence, failure to pay maintenance and cure, and unseaworthiness. In the alternative, Plaintiff alleged that if he was not a seaman and was covered by the LHWCA.
The District Court found Plaintiff failed to cite evidence that showed a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether he was a seaman and, alternatively, as to vessel negligence.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding that Plaintiff did not have a connection to the ship he was working on at the time he was injured, and that he could not establish vessel negligence.
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