The status of a seaman in admiralty law provides maritime workers with special protections such as payment of wages, working conditions, and remedies for workplace injuries under the Jones Act and the doctrines of "unseaworthiness" and "maintenance and cure." Each of these remedies have the same criteria for the identifying the status of seaman. Many employers, however, are unaware if their employees are actually seamen. As a result, the employment status of a person injured in a maritime context sets the stage for the entire liability dispute.
For both businesses and consumers, there is a delicate balance of power that needs to be maintained in order to ensure that businesses have the freedom to benefit from their enterprise and that consumers are not unfairly disadvantaged when entering into transactions with businesses.
In the case of borrowed employees, there is no "bright line rule" as to whether courts look to an employee's entire employment with the employer or only the period of employment with the borrowing employer to apply the 30% test for determining seaman status.
CHMM, LLC ("CHMM") is the owner of M/Y JAMAICA BAY, a 59.5-meter luxury yacht. In 2006, CHMM contracted with Nobiskrug GmbH ("Nobiskrug") to "construct, equip, launch and complete [the yacht] at [Nobiskrug's] shipyard and to sell and deliver [the yacht] to [CHMM]" for approximately 34.2 million dollars. Nobiskrug subcontracted with Freeman Marine Equipment for the manufacture of a "weathertight" door for installation in the yacht.
In our previous post, we spoke a bit about a dispute involving a merchandise licensing agreement with Duck Commander. Such litigation, it could be pointed out, is a reminder of the importance of careful navigation of licensing agreements, both for licensors—those granting a license—and licensees—those obtaining a license.
Most of our readers are probably familiar with the Robertson Family of Duck Dynasty fame. Duck Commander, the Robertson family company, was recently named as a defendant involving allegations of breach of contract, trademark infringement, and violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Last time, we began speaking about the issue of worker misclassification and the importance for businesses of complying with federal and state laws in this area. Last time, we described in general the penalties that can result from employee misclassification. As we noted, prosecution begins after a fourth offense, prior to which fines are progressive.