Federal maritime law was the applicable substantive law and provided a three year statute of limitations for injuries a seaman sustained on the deck of a vessel when moving equipment onto an oil platform. The one year statute of limitations of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act did not apply.
RODNEY G. HAMM, Plaintiff – Appellee, v. ISLAND OPERATING COMPANY, INC.; RODAN MARINE SERVICES II, L.L.C., Defendants – Appellants.
No. 10-31221 Summary Calendar
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 22984
November 16, 2011, Filed
Plaintiff injured seaman sued defendant crane operator and defendant employer. The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana denied the crane operator’s motion to dismiss or alternatively for summary judgment, based on Louisiana’s one-year limitations period, which the operator asserted was the applicable substantive law under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 43 U.S.C.S. § 1333 et seq. Defendants appealed.
According to the crane operator, Louisiana’s substantive law applied to the seaman’s claims against it because OCSLA adopted the law of the adjacent state as the governing law for the Outer Continental Shelf pursuant to 43 U.S.C.S. § 1333(a)(2)(A). The seaman did not contest that Louisiana law applied if OCSLA was the governing substantive law. The seaman countered, however, that the district court correctly held federal maritime law to be the applicable substantive law, and that under federal maritime law, the seaman had three years within which to file suit pursuant to 46 U.S.C.S. § 30106. The district court correctly held that federal maritime law was the applicable substantive law. The location element was satisfied because the injury was suffered on the deck of a vessel afloat on navigable water. The connection element was met because the incident was potentially disruptive of maritime commerce. The crane operator had no right to a jury trial because the seaman elected a non-jury trial under Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(h).
The district court’s order was affirmed.