Working Abroad

Our firm got hired by a guy today that is a citizen of the United States (Texas); he got hurt working in the Port of Singapore; his actual employer was a wholly owned subsidiary of a large corporation that is into oilfield exploration; the wholly owned subsidiary is incorporated “offshore” but it has an office in Texas in the “main” office building of its parent corporation; out of this office it issued paychecks to him and keeps it business records; he was hired out of Texas; the vessel is Liberian flagged and owned by this wholly owned “offshore” subsidiary; the vessel was constructed in Port Arthur, Texas; he states he does not have a “contract” of employment establishing venue of any action should he get hurt; since the injury he has received medical care the he had to pay for and no maintnance.

(1) Who thinks the Jones Act applies?
(2) If it does apply, where (what venue) can the action be brought and successfully maintained?
(3) If it does not apply, can he still sue in the county in Texas where the office is of the wholly owned subsidiary?
(4) Unlike a Jones Act seaman’s case that can be brought in state court (if desired) and not be “removed” to federal court, if the Jones Act does not apply and he sues in state court can the employer successfully remove it to federal court?
(5) The elements of damages that are normally present in a Jones Act case such as past and future loss of earnings, maintenance, cure, past and future pain and suffering, past and future physical impairment, etc. are they present and, if not, what are the elements of recovery?
(6) since he was hurt in Singapore, if the Jones act does not apply, what law governs, e.g., Singapore Law, the country the “offshore” company is incorporated, etc.?
(7) if another country’s law governs, can that law be followed but still bring the action in a court in the United States?

If you would please answer these questions and have it on my desk in the morning I would greatly appreciate it.:slight_smile:

As you can see, this is a very intricate set of facts that have an incredible amount of legal issues that are extremely important to the injured sailor. Traditionally, the damages awarded by courts in countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Phillipines, etc, for physical injuries are [I]de minimus[/I] in relation to United States’ venues. These companies go to great lengths to avoid liability under the Jones act; usually they employ foreign citizens but, as you can see, in this case, they hired a US citizen.

Just wanted to share this with ya’ll. I know hat some of ya’ll work in simialar situations. Check your paychecks and see who the actual Payor is and see if tey are an “offshore” wholly owned subsidiary, e.g Pride, Ensco, Transocean, etc. Look at your “Contract of Employment”…doe it say anything that you have signed and agreed to. Obviously noone plans to get hurt but we all know man plans and G-d laughs. Food for thought.

I wish You Calm Seas.


I just met a gentleman at CMA’s Shipping09 that is studying maritime law at a school in New England (of which name I cannot recall). I told him of this sub-category and he said he would check it [I]and[/I] tell all of his classmates. So let’s see if he shows!

James, are you out there?

  1. Jones Act does not apply
  2. NA
  3. Not based on Maritime PI
  4. On what cause of action?
  5. The elements of damages are listed in Liberian Maritime Law RLM-107 sec. 336
  6. Liberian law applies, assuming he had a Liberian seaman’s book
  7. Probably not based on the injury

PM me if you need additional info.

Dear Sean-

You are proof positive why I love this Forum. Though I’ll not comment on the correctness of the totality of your answer, I will say you definitely advance to the next round!!

Awesome and I look forward to future exchanges. You have my cell…if you’re ever bored, please call me.

I Wish You Calm Seas

On note: few offshore companies have “Contracts Of Employment”. Most use at-will employment where the company policies dictate the terms of employment. Under these terms, and especially in the state of Texas, an employer can fire you for almost anything and you may quit at anytime.