Download PDF

News & Events

Successful Defense of Vessel Owner in Seaman's Case

Galloway Johnson represented the owner of an offshore supply vessel (OSV) sued by one of its seaman for damages for loss of his right leg below the knee. The seaman claimed he lost his leg due to injuries sustained when stepping on a milk crate to get out of his bunk and due to delay in and inadequate medical treatment. John Galloway obtained summary judgment for the vessel owner on the claim for maintenance and cure based on the McCorpen defense of concealment of a pre-existing diabetic condition and then negotiated a very reasonable settlement for the remaining damages claims. The seaman then terminated his lawyer, refused to negotiate the check and refused to sign the release. Galloway moved to enforce the settlement and the US District Court indeed enforced the settlement and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed noting that, while seamen are “wards of admiralty whose rights federal courts are duty-bound to jealously protect”, the settlement was at “arms’ length and conducted in good faith by both parties, with adequate legal and medical counsel, the amount was not patently inadequate and [the seaman] accepted it with a full understanding of its terms and consequences.”