Scott Lamberger v. Inland Marine Service, Inc

[B]Case Name: [/B]Scott Lamberger v. Inland Marine Service, Inc.
[B]Date Decided: [/B]December 8, 2009
[B]Court: [/B]United States D.C. Western District of Kentucky
[B]Judge: [/B]Chief Judge Russell
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 4758731 (W.D.Ky.) [B]Background:
[/B]Plaintiff, Scott Lamberger (“Lamberger”), was a seaman employed by Inland Marine Service Inc. (“Inland”). Lamberger was injured while moving a 55 gallon drum aboard one of Inland Marine’s vessels, and entered into a Settlement and in turn agreed not to sue and granted indemnification to Inland.

Lamberger received $53,500 in exchange for agreeing to the following: “Scott Lamberger does herby release, covenant not to sue, aquit, and forever discharge, hold harmless, protect, indemnify, and defend Inland Marine Service, Inc., its vessels, barges and equipment etc…”. Furthermore, included was a promise not to sue under the Jones Act or any kind of general maritime law pertaining to or referring to unseaworthiness of navigable vessels, gave up the right to maintenance and cure also.

Shortly after, Lamberger was fired after leaving early upon belief that he received permission from the captain. Lamberger filed this suit over his injuries, alleging breach of warranty of seaworthiness, and Inland Marine has filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the settlement agreement prevents Lamberger from bringing these claims.

Did the settlement agreement prevent the plaintiff from asserting these claims? [/B]

[/B]A seaman’s release as a defense is held to a higher standard than normal state contract law. Lamberger alleged that he did not have a full understanding of his rights upon signing the release. Specifically, Lamberger claims he was under* the belief he would be able to still work for Inland Marine and that the termination was contrary to the agreement.

However, this Court found that in fact, Lamberger did return to work for two months following his Settlement. The Court further found that Inland Marine made no guarantees of [I]permanent employment [/I]for which Lamberger alleges now.

Accordingly this Court granted Inland’s motion for summary judgment.

In this case involved a release given by a seaman. Such releases are given careful judicial scrutiny. The burden is upon the person who seeks the protection from the release to show that it was executed freely, without deception or coercion, and that it was made by the seaman with a full understanding of his rights. [/B]

[B]The adequacy of the consideration and the nature of the medical and legal advice available to the seaman [I]at the time of signing [/I]are relevant in determining whether the agreement was fair. [/B]

[B]Steve Gordon