Joshua Redmond v. Poseidon Personnel Services, et al

[B]Case Name: [/B]Joshua Redmond v. Poseidon Personnel Services, S.A. and Societe D’Exploitation Du Lorelay, S.A.
[B]Date Decided: [/B]October 23, 2009
[B]Court: [/B]U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Louisiana
[B]Judge: [/B]Judge Fallon
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 3486385 (E.D.La.) [B]Background:
[/B]Plaintiff, Joshua Redmond, (“Redmond”) was injured while employed aboard *the M/V LORELAY in the North Sea. Redmond alleged that the vessel was unable to maintain its position in rough seas and as a result, he subsequently suffered severe and permanent injury to his back and other parts of his body.

Redmond filed an action under the Jones Act and general maritime law for physical pain and mental anguish, along with a claim seeking maintenance and cure. Redmond filed this action in the Eastern District of Louisiana against Poseiden, a Swiss entity that does not maintain an office or presence in Louisiana.

Redmond sought to take a deposition of Poseiden’s corporate representatives in New Orleans, Louisiana. Poseiden objected to on the basis that all its corporate representatives and relevant documents are located in Europe and filed a Motion to Quash and a Motion for Protective Order requesting that Poseidon’s corporate representatives be deposed in the Netherlands rather than New Orleans.

The Magistrate Judge issued an Order directing the deposition to take place via videoconferencing with counsel to participate from their offices.

Poseidon filed this motion objecting to the Magistrate Judge’s Order in that it means that the deposition must be taken with counsel participating in their offices* and that requiring counsel to remain in their office during the deposition it denies their right.

[B]Issue:
[/B]Did this Court find that Poseidon has a right to counsel present during the videoconference deposition?

[B]Held:
[/B]Poseidon supported their argument by noting that Redmond’s deposition was taken in the presence *of his attorneys. Accordingly, Poseidon argued that it also should be given the same opportunity to have its counsel present when its representatives are deposed.

Poseidon contended that directing the videoconference created a dangerous precedent by prohibiting their counsel from faithfully and diligently performing its duty as counsel during cross-examination by an opposing counsel and is contrary to Fifth Circuit precedent.

Moreover, Poseidon further argued that the deposition should be taken in the Netherlands because Redmond sought out and accepted employment with an international corporation and chose to sue Poseidon on his own volition.

Redmond countered noting that district courts are given broad discretion in determining the location of depositions on a case-by-case basis. Redmond claimed that the Magistrate Judge weighed all the relevant factors and properly concluded Poseidon could choose to bring its corporate representative to New Orleans or to have the deposition in the Netherlands requiring counsel to remain at their offices in the US.

Redmond further argued that Poseidon’s attempt to force Redmond to depose Poseidon’s employees in the Netherlands violated the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, which prohibits a Jones Act employer from engaging in any device that prevents a Jones Act seaman from obtaining information from any employee as to the facts incident to the seaman’s injuries.

This Court affirmed the choices given by the Magistrate because it failed to find a “clearly erroneous and contrary to law” decision made by the Magistrate. Moreover this Court found that ordering the deposition through a videoconference was not clearly erroneous.

Finally, this Court found that Poseidon has a right to have counsel present during the deposition and therefore found that the Magistrate’s decision to not allow counsel present during the deposition was clearly erroneous.

[B]Comment:
The defendant, Poseidon, argued that the plaintiff should be expected to travel to the Netherlands because (1) he chose to work for an international company and (2) on his own accord, sued the Netherlands based company. [/B]

[B]However, Redmond, the plaintiff, did not choose to be injured* as a result of Poseidon’s alleged negligence and unseaworthiness of the vessel. Accordingly, the Magistrate gave Poseidon two choices, 1. Conduct the deposition via videoconference or 2. Require Poseidon’s representative(s) to travel to New Orleans. [/B]

[B]Steve Gordon *[/B]

More…

I’m new to this site but am curious why does this website post these sort of legal decisions regularly? is it required as part of the court procedings to alert peers or is more of a marketing ploy on the attorney’s behalf, a sort of “look at me everyone!”.

does anyone know?

richard8000…

IMHO…these “briefs” are a worthwhile read…believe Steve Gordon has also been known to “pipe in” on occassion “pro bono”…what I pasted below pretty much explains this particular portion of the forum:

[B]“Jones Act Case Law Library[/B] Jones Act Cases from the US Court system. This is an automatic feed provided by dedicated gCaptain sponsor, Steve Gordon of Gordon and Elias, L.L.P.”

**as far as “look at me everyone”…what can be said…lawyers not unlike mariners are a breed apart…it is what it is!!

I understand. NB, although I find the litigiousness nature of many US seaman detrimental to our “cause” (and our international reputation), I read every single one of his posts!
go figure.

Dear All-

[LEFT][LEFT]I think it is important for seamen to know what is happening in the U.S. court system. We have a newsletter [it was supposed to be monthly but we have only managed to get one out in 7 months…best laid plans of mice and men!] called “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself”. It, among other things, discusses some but not all, of the more significant court decisions that affect the legal rights of U.S. mariners, e.g. the [I]Atlantic Sounding [/I]case.[/LEFT]
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[LEFT]These cases are appellate court cases from ether a state court of appeals, supreme court of a state, federal district court, federal circuit court of appeals and, of course, the United States Supreme Court. We get the courts’ opinions and brief them to our maritime law site and then they, as pointed out, auto feed in this Forum and other sites around the country. We are very happy to do it and we are elated that you find the material interesting.[/LEFT]
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[LEFT]The ‘hey…look at me" discussion is a bit odd. However, if you are truly a mariner that is from a foreign [to the U.S.] land, I think I understand your post. This is especially true when coupled with your statement about the U.S. mariner being prone to being litigious. Your system of compensation is quite different from ours. Your maritime employers’ philosophy towards their employees is quite different from our maritime companies. The entire discussion of uniformity of compensation on an international basis is an incredible topic and certainly one noteworthy of pursuit. It is not US mariners that are litigious; it is not the Jones Act lawyers that are litigious; it is, in fact, the entire system of unchecked capitalism that is the ultimate source of the problem.[/LEFT]
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[LEFT]Please do not misunderstand me, ever so infrequently, there is a U.S. Jones Act employer that actually ‘bellies up to the bar’ and admits (1) fault and (2) offers fair compensation to either the injured mariner or to his/her family if he/she was killed. But…this is the exception and NOT THE RULE! From what I can see, this is not the case in “foreign” seaman claims of European countries. There…the work of a person is given more respect and more worth in society. Sadly, this is not the case from U.S. companies. Here, when you are injured, you rapidly become [I]persona non grata[/I], the devil, the enemy and all the other bad adjectives. Why? Simply because you are hurt and because you can make a claim. That’s why! Instead of embracing the injured mariner, they are forced to seek representation from the “hey look at me” crowd. Obviously, I believe our firm is a great maritime firm with a very long history of positive outcomes. However, in almost every instance, it was the company trying to “get over” on the seaman that pushed the putative client to us.[/LEFT]
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[LEFT]Please Richard8000MilesAway, do not think of maritime lawyers as lechers on society because we are not. It is too easy just to paint with such a broad brush; but, the litigiousness issue you raise, [U][I][B]requires [/B][/I][/U]and in-depth analysis. Hopefully, you will concede these issues I raise as significant obstacles to the adoption of a compensation scheme that is more acceptable to you than the one currently in existence in the United States.[/LEFT]
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[LEFT]I truly hope no mariner ever needs our services but that is not a realistic thought. Hence, when a Us. mariner does get hurt, we would be honored if they would at least “look at me/us” before they choose. Is that bad?[/LEFT]
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No one wants to accept responsibility so they either sue to shift the blame or they sue to assign the blame to the person who is denying responsibility.

It seems that U.S. society in general wants freedom of choice, but not the accountability that comes with it. Therefore if you want to avoid accountability, you sue someone else for letting you do it, or not stopping you from doing it, or you did it because they influenced you to do it. It is a really a self-defeating vicious circle.

I recall a recent article from my alma mater’s magazine in which someone advertising their services wrote a glowing letter of (self) praise showing how they had just won a large lawsuit; the person in question was a 2nd mate who had been standing behind a winch when the line parted. he was of course injured and now he’s just been awarded for his accident.
doesn’t this strike anyone as odd? who stands behind a winch drum under strain? when do we start taking responsibility for our own actions?
I don’t know the answers, but it makes me wonder. needless to say, the system in place will change one way or another eventually.
Food for thought!

For sure the United States wants freedom of choice. Historically,they are such believers in freedom of choice they have fought for other countries’ freedoms from tyranny and fascism on soil not of their own. This “tort” [taken from French word which means “wrong”] system of the United States is not perfect but, in light of all the circumstances of trying to maintain a democracy as the governmental theory and with capitalism as the mode of production, it serves as a “checks and balance” from the abuses of powerful corporations against the little guy.

I wish I knew where you were from and what compensation system of mariners you live under. You say you have read the appellate decisions that have been auto-posted. You can readily see the judicial system is filled with defenses that protect the defendant from spurious results. Are there the [I]occasional[/I] ridiculous outcomes that we all hear about? Heck yes! But what you don’t hear about is what actually ended being paid from that “runaway” jury verdict.

As to the argument about US citizens not wanting to take accountability; that is exactly what I was trying to say from my first post. It is the wealthy company that should be first to take responsibility as it can spread the risk financially without suffering economic ruin. In some cases, it is the working husband that is injured and he only has his brawn to offer society. When that is taken away from him due to a serious injury, what about him, his wife, his kids…how are they to survive?

To help you understand that our system is the best in the world, under the democratic/capitalistic political/economic modes of government and production, rest assured that ALL the players’ conduct are considered in a maritime injury claim. The theory of “comparative negligence” or “comparitive fault” is present in every case. That is, the jury or judge, assesses the defendant’s fault AND the plaintiff’s fault. For instance, if the jury awards $100.00 and assesses the defendant with 25% negligence and the plaintiff with 75% negligence, then the plaintiff only receives $25.00. So, once again, the system has built in checks and balances. Then, if the defendant or the plaintiff feels the verdict is “manifestly unjust”, they have the right to appeal to a group of judges.

There are so many things that are present in a case here in the United States that are not really understood by persons. Not just persons “foreign” to the U.S. but “persons” right here in the U.S. Unfortunately, the runaway verdicts are great fodder for the 15 second sound bite world that has evolved here and elsewhere.

This is what sickens me about “tort reform” that takes place here in each of the individual state houses of government and has taken place a little bit at the federal level too. You have people “tweaking” our judicial system legislatively when they do not understand that the system has built in checks and balances. Or, if they do understand, they do not care as they are only trying to push a legislative political agenda in the name of “what’s right” when, in actuality, they are simply trying to protect the mega -corporations bottom line on profits; all at the expense of the rights of who? The injured PERSON! As you can see, I am a true fan of our Constitution as it is designed to have three separate branches of government. When the Legislative branch tries to correct the Judicial branch, that is a true recipe for disaster which inevitably injures the “little guy”.

I have devoted my life to supporting the “little guy”. I am not alone in my profession. Be it maritime lawyers, be it medical malpractice lawyers, be it products liability lawyers, etc, all these people are necessary to protect the 'little guy".

I often think about similar thoughts to your statement that things will change. To be sure, things can be better, but I truly believe the change should come from the judicial branch and no where else. Quite honestly, I do not see change happening in large steps but in little increments and that is, in my opinion, as it should be.

I have to say I am intrigued by some of the cases I have read here. And it shows my ignorance of the full extent of Jones Act protection as relating to seamen and service related injuries. I have had the benefit of Jones act benefit on board just one vessel. But it was properly dealt with by the company, unlike so many of the cases we read about. However the big surprise to me is reading about American seamen on foreign ships for foreign companies who still get protection. This baffles me. Not that I would reject that protection.

Thanks for the summaries and keep them coming.