Noel Butcher v. Superior Offshore International v.


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[B]Case Name: [/B]Noel Butcher v. Superior Offshore International v. Offshore Lifeboats LLC, Triumph Marine, Inc. (third party Defendants)
[B]Date Decided: [/B]December 17, 2009
[B]Court: [/B]U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
[B]Judge: [/B]Judge Reavley, Judge Clement, Judge Southwick
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 4885026 (C.A.5 (La.) [B]Background:
[/B]Plaintiff, Noel Butcher, filed an action under the Jones Act for injuries suffered while working for defendant, Superior Offshore International, Inc.* The district Court granted summary judgment determining that Butcher was not a Jones Act seaman.

Both Triumph Marine Inc and Offshore Lifeboats, LLC (“Triumph” collectively) appealed following the granting of summary judgment.

Superior Offshore challenged Triumph’s standing to appeal.

[B]Issue:
[/B]Does Triumph, third party defendants, have standing to appeal a determination made that the plaintiff, Butcher, was not a Jones Act seaman?

[B]Held:
[/B]Superior asserted that only a seaman’s employer or personal representative may appeal in a case involving a determination of Jones Act seaman status.

However, this Court noted that this is incorrect. Triumph’s standing depends on whether it has suffered an actual or threatened injury that may be redressed on appeal. The District Court’s determination that Butcher is not a Jones Act seaman would implicate operation of the LHWCA, Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which in turn could affect Triumph’s indemnity claims.

Second, this Court determined whether Butcher’s connection to vessel MAGGIE was substantial in duration and nature. This Court found that it was not, Butcher was a painter/blaster and it is undisputed that all the painting and blasting work was done on a fixed platform, not a vessel.

This Court found that Butcher’s occasional appearance on board the vessel was incidental and minor in nature. Moreover, this Court did not count the time Butcher spent eating meals and breaks aboard the vessel in determining if he had spent 30% of his time on board the vessel.

Accordingly, this Court affirmed the District Court’s ruling that Butcher was [I]not [/I]a Jones Act “seaman”. *

[B]Comment:
In determining whether someone is a Jones Act “Seaman” generally, that person must spend, as a rule of thumb, approximately 30% of their time aboard the vessel in order to have a connection substantial in duration. Here, it is important to note, the Court found that time spent eating meals and general “break” time is not credited towards the 30%. [/B]

[B]Steve Gordon [/B]

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