Jones Act Lawsuit Filed by Seaman Over Injuries Working on Tug Boat

A seaman who alleges that he suffered permanent and debilitating injuries while working on a tug boat has filed a Jones Act lawsuit in Texas, seeking compensation from his employer. 

The lawsuit, filed by Joseph R. Dean in Jefferson County District Court on February 19, claims that Coral Marine Services is liable for injuries Dean suffered while working on a tugboat for the company. According to a report in The Southeast Texas Record, Dean says that he sustained disabling injuries while performing his job at sea onboard the Bailey Ann, a 50-foot tug.

Filed under the Merchant Marine Act, also known as the Jones Act, the complaint says that Coral Marine Services has refused to pay for Dean’s injuries, and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages of unspecified amounts.

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The Jones Act, first passed in 1920, is geared at protecting U.S. shipping interests and the rights of sailors onboard ships flying under a U.S. flag. The act stipulates that goods transported from one U.S. port to another must be done on a ship built and flagged in the U.S., by a majority U.S. crew. In addition, the Jones Act codified the right of the seaman to sue their captain, fellow crewmembers or the ship’s owner for unseaworthiness or negligence that resulted in an injury while onboard the vessel. Generally, legal rights at sea are set by international maritime law, which does not make provisions for a sailor or seaman to sue those that operate the vessel for work-related injuries.

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