Crescent Towing & Salvage Co. v. M/V BELO HORIZONTE

[B]Case Name: [/B]Crescent Towing & Salvage Co., v. M/V Belo Horizonte
[B]Date Decided: [/B]December 21, 2009
[B]Court: [/B]U.S.D.C. E.D. Louisiana
[B]Judge: [/B]Judge Engelhardt
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 5171792 (E.D.La.)[B]Background:
[/B]Eugent Ledet, while working on the Mississippi as a deckhand for Crescent Towing, was struck and killed by a parted mooring from the M/V BELO HORIZONTE. Crescent asserted claims against the BELO and siblings of the decedent intervened and filed claims against Crescent for relief under Jones Act and general maritime law. Crescent Towing sought dismissal of intervenors’ claim of “loss of society” damages.

[/B]Did this Court find that intervenors could recover for loss of society damages? *

[/B]Crescent argued that the surviving relatives of a seaman cannot recover loss of society damages because at the time of his death Mr. Ledet was a Jones Act seamans working in Louisiana territorial waters.

The intervenors argued that they are available because such non-economic damages are recoverable if the surviving relatives were financially and physically dependent upon the seaman prior to his death.

This Court, relying on [I]Milesv. Apex Marine Corp. [/I](498 U.S. 19), which determined that loss of society damages were not available under general maritime law in a wrongful death action brought by the mother of a Jones Act seaman stabbed to death while aboard a vessel docked in state territorial waters.

The intervenors contended that [I]Miles[/I] applied only to claims by nondependent survivors and this Court disagreed for the following reasons.

For one, the Court in [I]Miles[/I] did not [I]expressly [/I]limit its decision to claims by nondependent survivors. Further, the Supreme Court in [I]Miles [/I]looked to existing jurisprudence at the time Congress enacted the Jones Act. One such case, [I]Vreeland [/I](227 U.S. 33), a [I]widow [/I]of a deceased employee could only recover for pecuniary loss in a FELA claim.

This Court found no basis for concluding that claims by [I]dependent [/I]relatives of a Jones Act seaman, asserted against a seaman’s employer, are exempt from the proscription recognized in [I]Miles [/I]against loss of society damages in wrongful death actions under general maritime law.

Accordingly this Court granted Crescent’s Motion for Summary Judgment

Recovery for wrongful death under general maritime law and the Jones Act are limited to pecuniary losses only. That is, those losses that are [I]actual[/I] such as loss of care, loss of support, and loss of services. Under the Jones Act, pain and suffering of the decedent after the injury and before death is recoverable. [/B]

[B]Steve Gordon *[/B]