Derek Zastuary v. Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC, et al


[B]Case Name: [/B][I]Derek Zastuary v. Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC, et al.
[/I][B]Court: [/B]Superior Court of Connecticut Judicial District of New London
[B]Judge: [/B]Judge Peck
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 3286113 (Conn.Super.)[B]Background:
[/B]Plaintiff, Derek Zastuary, (“Zastuary”), brought this action under the Jones Act against employer, Balfour Beatty Construction (“Beatty”) and Tri-State Steel Construction after Zastuary sustained personal injuries on a barge on the Housatonic river. Zastuary also brought claims for unseaworthiness under maritime law.

Beatty was the general contractor in a State of Connecticut DOT multi-year project to demolish the existing bridge over the River.

Tri-State was hired by Beatty as a subcontractor. Zastuary was hired by Beatty to load and unload steel aboard one of the barges at the construction site on the River. The barge was a vessel used to transport individuals, equipment and materials from the shore and provide a platform in which to operate equipment from.

During his employment, Zastuary was injured while working on the barge by a piece of steel falling from a pile. At the time of his injury Zastuary had worked on the project for about 10 months, exclusively on the barge.

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that Zastuary is not a seaman under the Jones Act nor was his work substantially connected to a vessel in navigation in nature and duration.

[B]Issue: [/B]
Did the Court grant defendant’s motion for summary judgment finding that Zastuary was not a seaman under the Jones Act or that his work did not have a substantial connection to the barge in time or duration?

[/B]Defendants argued that Zastuary’s work on the barge was not in the nature of a seaman and he should not be able to recover under the Jones Act or maritime law.

Zastury countered that he spent all his time working on the barge for nearly a year and therefore his work was in the nature of a seaman.

The Court recognized that the test set forth by the Supreme Court required this Court to look at the nature and length of the job that Zastuary was on at the time he was injured. Based upon the facts presented, this Court found, there were still genuine issues of material fact whether Zastuary’s work was in the nature of that of a seaman.

Accordingly this Court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment,

When examining the substantial connection requirement, courts will focus on the nature of the employee’s connection to the vessel and concentrate on whether the employee’s duties take him to sea. [/B]

[B]This distinction is helpful in distinguishing land-based from sea-based employees. [/B]

[B]Steve Gordon [/B]