Tuesday, December 31, 2013

McDermott Intl. Inc. v Wilander case brief

McDermott Intl. Inc. v Wilander case brief summary
Supreme Court of the US, 1991, Justice O’Connor

Facts
  • Jon Wilander worked for McDermott international as a paint foreman.
  • On july 4, 1983, Jon was inspecting a pipe on one such platform when a bolt serving as a plug in the pipe blew out under pressure, striking Wilander in the head.
  • At the time Wilander was assigned to the American flag vessel Gates Tide, a paint boat chartered to McDermott.
  • Wilander sued McDermott in the US District Court of Louisiana.

Issue
Whether Wilander should be precluded from seaman status because he did not perform transportation related functions on board the Gates Tide.

Holding
No, Wilander should receive seaman status.

Rationale
Notwithstanding the aid in navigation doctrine, federal courts throughout the last century consistently awarded seamen’s benefits to those whose work on board ship didn’t direct the vessel.
The passage of the Jones Act that general maritime law did not require that a seaman aid in navigation.
The key to seaman status is employment-related connection to a vessel in navigation. A necessary element of the connection is that a seaman performs the work of a vessel.

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