Jones Act – Defenses – Collateral Estoppel & Res Judicata

428. Effect of Jones Act proceeding on other federal actions – Collateral Estoppel & Res Judicata

Libel under Suits in Admiralty Act (46 USCS Appx § § 741 et seq.) for recovery of damages for injuries sustained by seaman was barred by summary judgment dismissing complaint in prior 46 USCS Appx § 688 action based on same cause of action, where former judgment had not been appealed from and both actions were based on substantially same allegations of negligence. Wahlgren v Standard Oil Co. (1944, DC NY) 58 F Supp 783, 1944 AMC 1390, affd (CA2 NY) 152 F2d 106, 1946 AMC 50.

Where United States took full charge of defense in action under 46 USCS Appx § 688 by seaman to recover for alleged negligence against general agent, judgment could be pleaded as res judicata in negligence suit brought against United States under 50 USCS § 1291. Benjamin v United States (1950, DC NY) 92 F Supp 489, 1950 AMC 786.

429. Prior proceeding under Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (33 USCS § § 901 et seq.)

Award under Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (33 USCS § 901 et seq.) is bar to action under 46 USCS Appx § 688, because award could not have been made validly without determination that plaintiff was not member of crew. Hagens v United Fruit Co. (1943, CA2 NY) 135 F2d 842.

Determination in action brought under 33 USCS § § 901 et seq., does not estop plaintiff from bringing subsequent action under 46 USCS Appx § 688. Boatel, Inc. v Delamore (1967, CA5 La) 379 F2d 850.

Jones Act (46 USCS Appx § 688) suit of injured towboat worker must be dismissed summarily, where he suffered accidental amputation of left pinky finger, he was paid nearly $ 7,000 in compensation under Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (33 USCS § § 901 et seq.), and he initiated proceeding with Labor Department in which ALJ specifically ruled that worker was not Jones Act “seaman,” because worker is collaterally estopped from relitigating issue of seaman status. Anders v Ormet Corp. (1994, MD La) 874 F Supp 738.

430. Relation between Jones Act and general maritime proceedings

Although remedies for negligence under 46 USCS Appx § 688, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure have different origins and may on occasion call for application of slightly different principles and procedures, they nevertheless, when based on one unitary set of circumstances, serve same purpose of indemnifying seaman for damages caused by injury, dependent in large part upon same evidence, and involved some identical elements of recovery; where such closely related claims are submitted to different triers of fact, questions of res judicata and collateral estoppel necessarily arise, particularly in connection with efforts to avoid duplication of damages. Fitzgerald v United States Lines Co. (1963) 374 US 16, 10 L Ed 2d 720, 83 S Ct 1646, 7 FR Serv 2d 774, reh den 375 US 870, 11 L Ed 2d 99, 84 S Ct 26 and motion den 376 US 901, 11 L Ed 2d 604, 84 S Ct 655.

Claim under 46 USCS Appx § 688 for negligence and maritime claim for unseaworthiness provides seamen with two different grounds for relief for commission of same wrong; judgment on one claim bars second suit based on other claims. Troupe v Chicago, Duluth & Georgian Bay Transit Co. (1956, CA2 NY) 234 F2d 253.

431. –Prior Jones Act proceeding

Judgment under 46 USCS Appx § 688 for injuries includes all damages, including wages, future impairment, mental and physical pain, and hospital and medical expenses, and is res judicata of any future action under general maritime law. The Progress (1937, DC Wash) 21 F Supp 572, 1938 AMC 458.

If seaman brings action under 46 USCS Appx § 688 and it is decided against him, he may not follow up with second one under general law of maritime tort. Burkholder v United States (1944, DC Pa) 60 F Supp 700, 1945 AMC 759.

Fireman on barge who was injured while so employed and brought suit under 46 USCS Appx § 688 for damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of wages, maintenance at $ 2 per day, and loss of future earning power and obtained judgment which was paid, cannot thereafter institute second suit for maintenance for $ 2.50 day under general admiralty and maritime law. Ottinger v Walling (1939) 335 Pa 77, 5 A2d 801, 1939 AMC 807.

432. –Prior maritime proceeding

Recovery of maintenance and cure does not bar subsequent action under 46 USCS Appx § 688. Pacific S.S. Co. v Peterson (1928) 278 US 130, 73 L Ed 220, 49 S Ct 75.

Decree for wages, and maintenance and cure cannot be imposed against subsequent suit for damages. The Rolph (1924, CA9 Cal) 299 F 52, 1924 AMC 942, cert den 266 US 614, 69 L Ed 468, 45 S Ct 96.

Action under 46 USCS Appx § 688 by injured seaman based on allegations of negligence was barred by prior 46 USCS Appx § 688 action between same parties for same injuries based on 46 USCS Appx § 688 and for maintenance and cure which resulted in judgment for defendant at close of plaintiff’s case. Berk v Mathiason Shipping Co. (1942, DC NY) 45 F Supp 851, 1942 AMC 752.

Complaint for damages under 46 USCS Appx § 688 was barred where plaintiff had filed prior proceeding in admiralty. Jonassen v Norwegian American Line, Inc. (1952, DC NY) 105 F Supp 510, 1952 AMC 1146.

Judgment rendered in state court in action for maintenance and cure after full trial on same set of facts raised in subsequent action under 46 USCS Appx § 688 acts as complete estoppel to seaman on § 688 claim where seaman failed to establish that he had sustained injury in course of employment or that injury was result of accident in maintenance and cure action. Musgrave v Bronx Towing Line, Inc. (1963, SD NY) 219 F Supp 918.

Prospective trial between parties with reference to liability under 46 USCS Appx § 688 would be subject to principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel when issues were litigated and decided in admiralty action under Limitation of Liabilities Act (46 USCS Appx § § 181 et seq.). Hugney v Consolidation Coal Co. (1971, WD Pa) 345 F Supp 1079, later proceeding (WD Pa) 59 FRD 258, 17 FR Serv 2d 1440.

Final judgment in maintenance and cure action has collateral estoppel effect on seaman’s claims under 46 USCS Appx § 688 and admiralty doctrine of unseaworthiness where seaman failed to established that he suffered injury or that he became physically or mentally ill aboard owner’s ship in maintenance and cure action; fact of injury is indispensable element to seamen’s present claim based on § 688 and unseaworthiness. Siders v Ohio River Co. (1972, WD Pa) 351 F Supp 995.

433. Effect of prior Jones Act proceeding on State action

Plaintiff who brought 46 USCS Appx § 688 action in federal court on grounds of failure to provide safe place to work and unseaworthiness of vessel was barred from bringing subsequent state court action on grounds of negligent operation and control of vessel; 46 USCS Appx § 688 incorporates provisions of Federal Employers’ Liability Act, and grounds of recovery urged in second action were available in first. Baltimore S.S. Co. v Phillips (1927) 274 US 316, 71 L Ed 1069, 47 S Ct 600.

Claim of inconsistency between unsuccessful suit under 46 USCS Appx § 688 and later action for compensation cannot be asserted in compensation suit as election preventing compensation award. Teichman v Loffland Bros. Co. (1961, CA5 Tex) 294 F2d 175, cert den 368 US 948, 7 L Ed 2d 343, 82 S Ct 388.

434. Effect of prior state action on Jones Act proceeding

In action under 46 USCS Appx § 688, state court judgment may bar subsequent action in federal court absent sufficient jurisdictional predicate upon which federal jurisdiction may be based to entertain equitable collateral attack upon state judgment. Huddleston v Ohio River Co. (1964, CA3 Pa) 328 F2d 789, cert den 379 US 861, 13 L Ed 2d 64, 85 S Ct 122.

Action pending in state court system, where seaman brought action and recovered under 46 USCS Appx § 688 and waived right to recover for cure at trial, with appeal being taken to state supreme court, will not invoke doctrine of res judicata for seaman’s second suit in federal court under general admiralty and maritime law to recover maintenance. Rankin v Iron City Sand & Gravel Corp. (1947, DC Pa) 71 F Supp 26.

435. –Prior workers’ compensation proceeding

Action under 46 USCS Appx § 688 was not barred by fact that seaman sought action from Industrial Board of State of New York when award for workmen’s compensation was on appeal where no payments on account of it were made; there is no basis for invoking any doctrine of election of remedies and nothing has occurred in way of accord or satisfaction. Marceau v Great Lakes Transit Corp. (1945, CA2 NY) 146 F2d 416, 1945 AMC 223, cert den 324 US 872, 89 L Ed 1426, 65 S Ct 1018.

Action under 46 USCS Appx § 688 was not foreclosed either by res judicata or collateral estoppel by determination of nonseaman status made by state Industrial Accident Board in workmen’s compensation case, as employer was not party to action. Mike Hooks, Inc. v Pena (1963, CA5 Tex) 313 F2d 696.

Obtaining compensation under automatic workman-compensation act does not preclude plaintiff from pursuing 46 USCS Appx § 688 remedies. Harney v William M. Moore Bldg. Corp. (1966, CA2 NY) 359 F2d 649.

Decree of state court in sustaining Board’s ruling that cause of injury and death is mere speculation and conjecture, is res judicata on vital issue in action under 46 USCS Appx § 688, as to whether injury and death were suffered in course of employment. Trupasso v McKie Lighter Co. (1948, DC Mass) 79 F Supp 641.

Seaman who signs state workmen’s compensation agreement and receives payments thereunder, and executes final receipt, is not barred from recovery of his rights under 46 USCS Appx § 688. Schellenger v Zubik (1959, DC Pa) 170 F Supp 92.

Voluntary acceptance of compensation benefits from employer does not estop injured seaman from bringing action under 46 USCS Appx § 688, although he will not receive double payment because proper credit must be given for compensation payments made. Smith v Service Contractong, Inc. (1964, ED La) 236 F Supp 492.

Employer may not amend answer to reinsert defense that injured seaman granted award by state workers’ compensation board waived his federal maritime and 46 USCS Appx § 688 claims, where employer offered no evidence that seaman affirmatively waived his claim while seaman has thoroughly documented that, at every step of process, he expressly was not waiving his federal claims, because, in Second Circuit, receipt of workers’ compensation award is not waiver of federal remedies unless there is unqualified acceptance of compensation over period of years. Turner v Niagara Frontier Transp. Authority (1990, WD NY) 748 F Supp 80.

Since issues essential to jurisdiction under 46 USCS Appx § 688 were not determined in state compensation proceedings which resulted in award to widow for death of her husband, widow was not collaterally estopped to recover under 46 USCS Appx § 688 and fact that widow received part of award did not preclude assertions of her rights under 46 USCS Appx § 688. De Court v Beckman Instruments, Inc. (1973, 4th Dist) 32 Cal App 3d 628, 108 Cal Rptr 109.

436. Particular circumstances

In first 46 USCS Appx § 688 action, injured seaman recovered for lost wages, past and prospective, and for medical and surgical attention and medicines; since all facts stipulated and stated by counsel in second cause of action were present before court in first action, second action was barred by judgment in first. Runyan v Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. (1944, CA6 Ohio) 141 F2d 396, 1944 AMC 614.

Suit by seaman against government, owner of ship, was barred where in prior suit against general agent there was verdict that general agent was not negligent, since liability of government was dependent upon finding of negligence by general agent. Adriaanse v United States (1950, CA2 NY) 184 F2d 968, cert den 340 US 932, 95 L Ed 673, 71 S Ct 495.

Suit for damages by widow of deceased was not barred by proceeding for compensation where widow filed motion to dismiss and refused to accept any benefits for compensation though motion to dismiss was overruled and judgment entered in her favor. Wilkes v Mississippi River Sand & Gravel Co. (1953, CA6 Tenn) 202 F2d 383, 1953 AMC 846, cert den 346 US 817, 98 L Ed 344, 74 S Ct 29.

Res judicata prevents seaman who was injured on defendant’s ship and who subsequently sued hospital and doctors for malpractice in treating injury from recovering under Jones Act from defendant based solely upon hospital’s negligence even if hospital were held to be agent of defendant under 45 USCS § 51, where seaman settled malpractice action. Soto v United States Lines, Inc. (1985, SD NY) 608 F Supp 904.

Plaintiff who had, in prior 46 USCS Appx § 688 action, recovered on theory that he was employee of corporate owner of vessel and that his injury was due to negligence of corporation, but who failed to establish negligence on part of captain, could not maintain second action against captain on ground of negligence, since that question was res judicata. Silva v Brown (1946) 319 Mass 466, 66 NE2d 349.