United States Supreme Court upholds $4.2MM Jones Act Seaman verdict for Broussard & David client

In an important maritime law decision protecting seaman all over the county, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Louisiana verdict secured for an injured maritime worker. Attorney Blake R. David (lead counsel) and J. Derek Aswell of Broussard & David represented the plaintiff. Guidry v. Tanner Marine, 16-61 (La. App. 3rd Cir. 10/19/16), 206 So.3d 378, writ denied (La. 1/23/17) 209 So.3d 90; writ denied (U.S. 6/12/17) 2017 WL 1494663.

In Guidry v. Tanner Services, a St. Landry Parish trial court found Ernest Guidry to be a seaman under the Jones Act and awarded general and special damages of $3,885,911.69. A 16,000 pound vibrating hammer fell on Guidry causing the amputation of his four fingers, a crushed foot, herniated discs in his neck and back, concussion, depression, post-traumatic stress, and total and permanent disability. The verdict was upheld by the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and the Supreme Court of the United States — the final judgment with judicial interest totaled over $4,280,000.00.

Defendant, Tanner Services, LLC, was awarded a contract to construct a bulkhead in Grand Isle, Louisiana beginning in January 2012. The Defendant used three barges and two tugboats to move the equipment, supplies, and store materials, as well as to act as “floating docks” or “work stations” for a crane and preparatory welding. The project also used floating mats described as a large piece of wood similar to a “raft.” Guidry spent the majority of his time on the floating raft. Previously, Guidry had been strictly a land-based shop welder for Tanner. The trial court found that he was reassigned to do maritime work, and that this reassignment changed his status to a Jones Act seaman who can recover for his catastrophic losses from his at-fault employer. The court also found that the raft was an appurtenance to the crane barge.

The Third Circuit (and all subsequent courts) unanimously rejected Tanner Service’s appeal. The Third Circuit also agreed that the floating raft was an appurtenance to the Tanner vessel and that Guidry was reassigned to work as a Jones Act seaman.

It is rare for civil cases filed in state courts to be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. In Guidry v. Tanner, the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC – association of 600 member companies established in 1956 with 19 chapters in the United States) hired lawyers to join in appeals with Tanner Services to the Supreme Court of Louisiana and the Supreme Court of the United States. The AESC and other oil companies argued that “the Guidry standard” is a new landmark decision that has resurrected and broadened seaman status for those assigned to work on vessels.

It is important when selecting a maritime law firm to choose one that knows the law and path to recovery. The attorneys at Broussard & David, LLC have the experience, knowledge, and resources necessary to prosecute offshore, maritime, and admiralty claims to their fullest, as evidenced by the success in four separate courts in this Guidry case. If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of the negligence of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard & David, LLC to discuss your legal rights at info@broussard-david.com, (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

 

 

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