Jones Act Case Study: Perry Rose v Miss Pacific LLC, et al.

Mike Schuler
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June 24, 2009

Case Name: Perry Rose v Miss Pacific LLC, et al.
Date of Judgment: 15th June 2009
Court: U.S.D.C. – D. Oregon
Judge: District Judge King
Citation: 2009 WL 1688123 (D.Or.)

Background: Plaintiff, Perry Rose, was a seaman employed by Miss Pacific, LLC (“MP”). He suffered a knee injury while performing crew work on the vessel F/V MISS PACIFIC. The vessel, moored in Oregon, was owned and operated by defendant MP, a wholly owned subsidiary of defendant Pacific Fishing, LLC (“PF”).

Rose initially filed this action in the Western District of Washington seeking to recover damages from defendants based on negligence and for maintenance, cure, and unearned wages pursuant to the Jones Act and general maritime law. He served defendants’ registered agents in Oregon on January 6, 2009.

The defendants, MP and PF, moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction and on other grounds. Because that motion disclosed that MP had a registered agent in Washington, the plaintiff reserved that the defendant was in Washington on February 26, 2009. On March 9, 2009, the Western District of Washington granted defendants’ motion in part based on lack of personal jurisdiction and transferred the case to this court.

Defendants MP and PF have filed a motion for costs under RCW 4.23.185(5), seeking an award of attorney fees in the sum of $16,293.00 incurred in the Western District of Washington.

Issue: Whether the Court will grant the defendants’ motion for costs.

The plaintiff Rose argued that MP did not qualify for an award of attorney fees because it was served in Washington before issuance of the transfer order. However, Rose initially served MP in Oregon. Although Rose subsequently served MP in Washington, the fact remained that MP was “personally served outside the state,” providing it with a basis to file a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

However, when MP filed that motion, it knew that Rose could easily acquire personal jurisdiction over it in Washington by serving its registered agent in Washington. This Court was confused why it bothered to contest jurisdiction in Washington. Under those circumstances, this Court exercised its discretion not to award any attorney fees to MP.


Attorney’s fees are the costs of legal representation that an attorney’s client or a party to a lawsuit incurs. The fees are assessed in a number of ways, usually in advance of the representation, such as billable hours, flat fees, or contingent fees.

In civil cases, lawyers for the plaintiff can take a case on a contingent fee basis. This means that a percentage of the monetary judgment or settlement will be given to the firm or firms that have represented the plaintiff.

If a plaintiff loses, the attorney does not receive any money for his or her work.

In criminal cases, the plaintiff may not work with a firm on a contingent basis, as that would violate ethical regulations.

Steve Gordon

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