- [B]Case Name: [/B]John Paul DeHart Jr. v. BP America Inc., et al.
[B]Date Decided: [/B]January 14, 2010
[B]Court: [/B]United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana
[B]Judge:[/B] Jude Hill
[B]*Citation[/B]: 2010 WL 231744 (W.D.La.)
[/B]Plaintiff, John Paul DeHart, filed this purported class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and other alleged similarly situation people claiming personal injury as a result of exposure to airborne radiation dust while engaged in a platform decommissioning project.
DeHart and other workers engaged in the decommissioning ate meals and slept aboard the L/B Dixie Patriot while work was being performed on the platform to decommission it. There were also two supply boats assisting in the operation.
Plaintiffs asserted a class action and identified causes of action for negligence of the defendants under the Jones Act, general maritime law, and applicable Louisiana law.
In the complaint, plaintiffs allege seaman status. DeHart also testified that 99% of the decommissioning work he performed was performed while he was physically on the platform but not while he was on the Dixie Patroit. DeHart admitted that his use of the Dixie Patriot was limited to eating meals and sleeping.
Defendants removed this action to the U.S.D.C. for the Eastern District of Louisiana, alleging jurisdiction under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”) and further alleged plaintiffs failed to to state any claim for relief or right of recovery under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness, or maintenance and cure because plaintiffs failed to qualify as a seaman.
Plaintiffs asserted this suit was improperly removed because DeHart is a Jones Act seaman whose Jones Act action is non-removable.
[/B]Did the Court properly remove this action to the U.S.D.C. for the Eastern District of Louisiana?
[/B]First, the Court determined whether DeHart qualified as a Jones Act seaman.
DeHart contended that he was assigned to the Dixie Patriot as a seaman in order to assist in the performance of the offshore maritime construction work performed of the offshore maritime construction work performed for and by BP.
The Court then examined whether DeHart’s connection to the Dixie Patriot was substantial in nature and duration. DeHart admitted that 99% of his work on this project was performed whilke he was physically on the platform and not the vessel.
Based on the evidence presented this Court found that DeHart was not a Jones Act seaman.
Accordingly, this Court found that DeHart’s claim was removable because he failed to show he qualified as a Jones Act seaman.
Generally, Jones Act cases are not removable. In certain circumstances, the Fifth Circuit has recognized that defendants may pierce the pleadings to show that the Jones Act claim has been fraudulently pleaded to [I]prevent removal[/I]. [/B]
[B]The District Court, therefore, may use a summary-judgment like procedure to determine whether a plaintiff has fraudulently pleaded a Jones Act claim. [/B]
[B]Steve Gordon [/B]