Jones Act – Settlements

685. Generally

Tugboat owner is entitled to evidentiary hearing on his motion to rescind agreement settling seaman’s claim based on disabling arm injury, so that owner could present motion picture evidence of seaman lifting various sorts of building materials. Russell v Puget Sound Tug & Barg Co. (1984, CA9 Wash) 737 F2d 1510.

Where injured seaman enters into settlement agreement containing “Mary Carter” provision providing that settling defendant will be remibursed to specified degree from any recovery plaintiff receives in suit against nonsettling defendant, court’s discretion in approving and enforcing agreement, as well as in disclosing terms thereof to jury, is magnified, since seaman is traditional ward of admiralty; adequacy of consideration is relevant in admiralty court’s scrutiny of seaman’s release, and party asserting release has burden of affirmatively showing that no advantage has been taken. Wilkins v P.M.B. Systems Engineering, Inc. (1984, CA5 Tex) 741 F2d 795.

Settlement of suit for injury under traditional admiralty claim in negligence under 46 USCS Appx § 688 was improper by set-off against company’s annuities and benefits plan since such settlement cannot be classified as “benefit resulting from premiums. . . paid by any of Gulf companies under any Workmen’s Compensation law or similar legislation.” Dupree v Gulf Oil Corp. (1971, ED Tex) 328 F Supp 480.

Motion of injured seaman to enforce alleged settlement agreement must be denied where corporate defendant challenged both existence of agreement and scope of counsel’s authority to settle case, and plaintiff failed to show “meeting of the minds” sufficient to result in binding and enforceable oral settlement agreement made with either actual or apparent authority. Thompson v Continental Emsco Co. (1986, SD Tex) 629 F Supp 1160.

Settling maritime defendants’ motions under state code provision for declaration of good faith settlement precluding subsequent actions for contribution and indemnity are denied and denials will not be certified for interlocutory appeal under 28 USCS § 1292, because (1) state procedural statutes governing settlement of state torts do not apply to Jones Act (46 USCS Appx § 688) and maritime actions, (2) immediate appeal will not resolve federal rule regarding settlement of multidefendant maritime actions, and (3) interests of public and injured seaman call for prompt and just resolution of claims. Daughtry v Diamond M Co. (1988, CD Cal) 693 F Supp 856.

686. Claims of minors

In action brought under 46 USCS Appx § 688, court is mindful of its obligations to protect interests of minors and in so doing, to scrutinize terms of any proposed settlement of their lawful claims. Donnarumma v Barracuda Tanker Corp. (1978, CD Cal) 79 FRD 455.

Settlement of minor-beneficiaries’ claim executed by minors’ natural tutrix with defendants after action to enforce minors’ claim was instituted by personal representative of decedent, is invalid. Benoit v Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co. (1978, La) 355 So 2d 892, on remand (La App 3d Cir) 361 So 2d join ship. Karvelis v Constellation Lines S.A. (1986, CA2 NY) 806 F2d 49.