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An oil platform permanently affixed to the sea floor is not a “vessel”; therefore, plaintiff could not avail himself of Jones Act or general maritime law remedies.

April 1, 2019
Ross v. W&T Offshore, Inc., 2018 WL 6492762 (E.D. La. Dec. 10, 2018)

This action involved a slip-and-fall incident that occurred on an oil platform permanently affixed to the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico. The plaintiff was working as a galley-hand and cook at the time of the incident. He filed suit against the owner of the oil platform. Whether the oil platform could be deemed a “vessel” would dictate the available potential remedies for the plaintiff. The court explained that a watercraft did not qualify as a “vessel” where it was “not capable of being used for maritime transport in any meaningful sense.” The court found that the oil platform was incapable of movement as it was permanently affixed to the sea floor, had not moved in 20 years, had never been used as a mode of transportation, was physically incapable of movement, and had no propulsion system. As such, the platform did not qualify as a “vessel.” Therefore, the plaintiff could not avail himself of the Jones Act or general maritime law remedies. 

 

Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019

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