Jones Act Case Study: Cecilia Bennett v Businelle Towing Corp.

Case Name: Cecilia Bennett v Businelle Towing Corp.
Date of Judgment: 12th June 2009
Court: 1st Circuit – Court of Appeal of Louisiana
Judge: Chief Justice Carter
Citation: 2009 WL 1654882 (La.App. 1 Cir.)

Issue: Whether an injured seaman’s spouse can recover damages for loss of consortium in a suit brought under general maritime law.

Held:
This Court has considered the issue in prior cases and concluded that no claim for loss of consortium and society exists under the Jones Act, which is construed to permit only pecuniary damages.

In Miles v Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19, the Supreme Court held that in an action for the wrongful death of a seaman, whether under the Death on the High Seas Act, the Jones Act, or general maritime law, recovery is limited to pecuniary damages.  Thus, recovery for loss of society/consortium was precluded.

Therefore, the spouse of an injured seaman has no cause of action for loss of society/consortium under general maritime law. Murray v Anthony J. Bertucci Construction Co., Inc., 958 F.2d 127.

Comments:

 

The Court noted that the Supreme Court case, Miles, specifically discussed the preclusion of pecuniary damages in a general maritime law claim. Thus, there was no legitimate reason for this Court to rule otherwise.

 

Steve Gordon
http://www.offshoreinjuries.com