Rivera v. Kirby Offshore Marine, L.L.C., ---F.3d --- (2020), 2020 WL 7586508

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a Sieracki unseaworthiness finding.

In Rivera v. Kirby Offshore Marine, L.L.C., the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reexamined the Sieracki seaman doctrine. In Sieracki, the United States Supreme Court had determined that the unseaworthiness remedy was available to those who are not seaman employed by a vessel owner. 328 U.S. 85 (1946). However, the 1972 Amendments to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) had generally overruled the Sieracki doctrine.

In Rivera, the plaintiff was found to be an independent contractor pilot not employed by the vessel owner, Kirby. Therefore, as a non-employee, the plaintiff was not covered under the LHWCA and was not a Jones Act seaman. Notwithstanding, the Fifth Circuit upheld the District Court’s finding that the plaintiff could pursue a claim for unseaworthiness as a Sieracki seaman, indicating the viability of the Sieracki seaman doctrine under the circumstances.


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