A finding in favor of an employee, a seaman, was proper because, although the evidence to establish medical causation was underwhelming, it was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict under the “slight evidence” standard applicable to the causation prong of a liability determination in case under the Jones Act.
JIMMY LEWIS VERSUS ODECO, INC., MURPHY EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION COMPANY AND DIAMOND OFFSHORE DRILLING COMPANY CONSOLIDATED WITH: JIMMY LEWIS VERSUS ODECO, INC., MURPHY EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION COMPANY AND DIAMOND OFFSHORE DRILLING COMPANY
COURT OF APPEAL OF LOUISIANA, FOURTH CIRCUIT
2007-0497 (La.App. 4 Cir. 04/08/09); 2009 La. App. LEXIS 527
April 8, 2009, Decided
Defendant employer sought review, in a consolidated appeal, of the decision of the Civil District Court, Orleans Parish (Louisiana), which found in favor of plaintiff employee, a seaman, in the employee’s petition alleging that the damage to his body from actions on the part of the employer left him being paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. The employee was awarded over a $ 7 million judgment.
In a consolidated case, the employer appealed the trial court’s judgments in favor of the employee, a seaman. The jury found the employer negligent and held that the negligence was a cause in the development of the employee’s condition. The jury also found that the employee’s condition arose while he was in the service of the vessel and that he was entitled to damages in the amount of $ 5,409,655, in addition to maintenance and cure. The appellate court reduced the total amount of the trial court judgment in the first case from $ 7,147,601.60 to $ 5,887,837.42, stating that part of the general damages award was duplicative of the award for cure. In all other respects, the judgment in that case number was affirmed and the trial court’s judgment in the second case number was affirmed. There was no abuse in the trial court’s decision to limit a doctor’s testimony to his treatment of the employee. Although the evidence to establish medical causation was underwhelming, it was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict under the “slight evidence” standard applicable to the causation prong of a liability determination in case under the Jones Act.
The appellate court reduced the total amount of the trial court judgment in the first case from $ 7,147,601.60 to $ 5,887,837.42. In all other respects, that judgment was affirmed and the appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s judgment in the second case.
Evidence was inadmissible under Fed. R. Evid. 702 where doctor did not examine seaman, she did not have evidence of chemical concentrations to which he was exposed, and doctor based her opinion that seaman’s bladder cancer was caused by chemicals on two scholarly articles, which did not discuss chemical concentrations that would cause such cancer.
LARRY SEAMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant v. SEACOR MARINE L.L.C., Defendant-Appellee
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 9202
April 30, 2009, Filed
Appellant seaman sought review of a judgment from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, which granted summary judgment to appellee employer in the seaman’s suit alleging that the employer was liable under the Jones Act and general maritime law for causing and failing to detect the seaman’s bladder cancer.
The seaman alleged that he was exposed to toxic chemicals during the course of his more than 20-year career with the employer and that the chemical exposure caused his cancer. The court agreed with the district court that the expert evidence proffered by the seaman was inadmissible under Fed. R. Evid. 702’s Daubert standard. The expert, a doctor, did not examine the seaman, she did not take samples of the chemical concentrations or seek evidence as to the concentrations, and the doctor based her opinion that the cancer was caused by the chemicals on a material data safety sheet and two scholarly articles about the risks factors for bladder cancer, though neither article discussed the concentrations of Ferox and diesel exhaust that would cause bladder cancer. The doctor’s opinion was thus lacking in reliability and scientific verification, and as such, was inadmissible. The court also held that summary judgment was warranted because in a toxic tort case, expert evidence on the issue of causation was necessary. The expert opinion offered by the employer attributed the cancer to second-hand smoke, and the seaman offered no other expert evidence on causation.
The court affirmed the district court’s judgment.
State employee who sustained injury aboard a vessel could not sue the state under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, because the state had not consented to be sued under the federal act in its courts; the employee was limited to the exclusive remedy provision available under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.
KAREN KUEBEL VERSUS DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES AND OFFICE OF RISK MANAGEMENT
COURT OF APPEAL OF LOUISIANA, FOURTH CIRCUIT
2008-1018 (La.App. 4 Cir. 04/15/09); 2009 La. App. LEXIS 588
April 15, 2009, Decided
Plaintiff, a biologist employed by defendant state agency, appealed a judgment of the 25th Judicial District Court, Parish of Plaquemines, Louisiana, that sustained the state agency’s exceptions of no cause of action and lack of subject matter jurisdiction in her suit to recover for injuries that she sustained during the course of her employment.
The biologist sustained injury while working aboard a research vessel. She filed a suit for damages under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, and general maritime law. The state agency filed exceptions of no cause of action and lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the trial court sustained the exceptions and dismissed the biologist’s claim. On review, the court held that, because the State of Louisiana had not consented to be sued under the Jones Act in state courts, the biologist could not assert such a claim against the state agency. Rather, the biologist, as a state employee, was limited under Louisiana Law to the exclusive remedies available under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. Because the biologist’s exclusive remedy was the filing of a workers’ compensation claim, the district court properly sustained the state agency’s exceptions and dismissed the biologist’s cause of action.
The judgment of the district court was affirmed.