Crewmember’s Jones Act Negligence Claim Defeated At Trial; Limits Crewmember’s Reimbursement For Cure Ot The Employer’s Medical Network Rates

Dorothy Jackson v. NCL America
Case No. 14-23460-CIV-WILLIAMS

Dorothy Jackson, a crewmember aboard the Pride of America, sued her employer, Norwegian Cruise Line, alleging that she sustained injuries when she slipped and fell on onion skin on one of the ship’s thoroughfares.

At trial, Norwegian showed that Ms. Jackson could not prove that Norwegian had actual or constructive notice of the risk-creating condition. There was no evidence to show how the onion skin got there, who put it there, or how long it had been on the floor.  There was no evidence that one of Norwegian’s agents or employees had placed the onion skin on the floor.  But more importantly, whoever dropped the onion skin could have simply failed to notice it.  There was no evidence of anybody seeing anything on the floor before Ms. Jackson slipped and fell.

The Court adopted McAlpin Tanner Marcotte’s position and concluded that there was absolutely no evidence that Norwegian knew, or should have known, about the onion skin on the floor and corrected the situation.  Even though only the slightest evidence of negligence needs to be shown in Jones Act cases does not mean, however, that the crewmember may prevail on no evidence at all.

Without being able to prove notice, the U.S. District Court denied Jackson’s negligence claim.

In addition, in compliance with its maintenance and cure obligation to crew, Norwegian arranged for Jackson to see a number of highly qualified doctors.  However, Ms. Jackson rejected the medical treatment offered by Norwegian.  From the onset, she sought to obtain treatment by her own more expensive physician, rather than from physicians working within Norwegian’s medical network.

McAlpin Tanner Marcotte established precedent that the employer is only liable for the cost of cure at its network rates when the employer tenders the medical treatment, but the crewmember elects to proceed with her own physician—at a higher cost.