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DAVIS v. SEDCO FOREX

January 9, 1987

THOMAS DAVIS
v.
SEDCO FOREX



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEWCOMER

 Newcomer, J.

 Plaintiff allegedly suffered an injury while working on drilling rig which was located off the coast of Angola. During a pre-trial conference, the parties raised the issue of whether or not plaintiff was a seaman under the Jones Act. The court requested briefing on the issue. On December 15, 1986, 655 F. Supp. 605, after considering the parties' briefs, the court ruled that the plaintiff was to be considered a seaman under the Jones Act. Defendant Sedco Forex has now filed a motion for reconsideration of the December 15 order and memorandum.

 I BACKGROUND

 The December 15 Memorandum explicitly recognized that Davis was a seaman under the terms of the Jones Act. In arriving at that conclusion the Court examined the appropriate legal standards and the factual record relevant to the issue. After analyzing the Third Circuit standard and the record the Court determined that there was no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the appropriate legal standard required that Davis be recognized as a Jones Act Seaman.

 Defendant bases its motion on the following arguments. First, the court applied an incorrect legal standard. See defendant's memorandum at p. 1, n. 1. Second, plaintiffs set forth inaccurate facts in their briefs on the subject. See defendant's motion at p.1. Third, the record did not support the conclusion that plaintiff Thomas Davis worked with the barge engineer or rig superintendent. See defendant's motion at p. 4, at para. 13.

 As this issue has been sharply litigated and in light of the significant errors alleged by the defendant, the court will again set forth its reasoning in a memorandum. This memorandum will review the appropriate legal standard and the evidentiary record.

 II THE APPROPRIATE STANDARD FOR DETERMINING SEAMAN STATUS

 In determining who is a seaman the Third Circuit has announced the following three-part standard:

 
(a) the ship must be in navigation;
 
(b) there must be a more or less permanent connection between the plaintiff and the ship; and
 
(c) the worker be aboard the vessel primarily to aid in navigation.

 Griffith v. Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corp., 521 F.2d 31, 36 (3d Cir. 1975), citing to 1A Benedict on Admiralty para. 21 (7th ed. 1973); see also McNeill v. J.E. Brenneman Co., 1986 A.M.C. 2241, 2242 (E.D. Pa. 1983).

 This Court in analyzing the "in navigation" requirement noted that it merely required the vessel to be engaged as an instrument of commerce or transportation on navigable waters. Griffith, 521 F.2d at 37. Also, off shore drilling rigs have been considered vessels. Gianfala v. Texas Co., 350 U.S. 879, 100 L. Ed. 775, 76 S. Ct. 141 (1955); see also McNeill, 1986 A.M.C. at 2245 ("drilling platforms have been found to be Jones Act vessels where they are exposed to the same hazards of the sea as traditional vessels or where they typically function at a distance from the shore"); Norris, The Law of Seaman, (4th ed. 1985) ยง 30.13 n.60 (citing several cases where drilling ...


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