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SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR DEFENDANT Jones Act – Indemnification action against cruise line for payments made to injured seaman.

U.S. District Court - Southern District of Florida

This action was brought by two national insurance companies against the defendant cruise line. The plaintiffs sought indemnification and contribution from the defendant for payments the plaintiff made to a seaman pursuant to the Jones Act.

The underlying litigation stemmed from damages claimed by a seaman aboard one of the defendant’s cruise ships for personal injuries sustained while working on board. Pursuant to a concessionaire agreement with the defendant cruise lines, another company (Steiner Trans-Ocean, Ltd.) employed the seaman to work on the defendant’s cruise ship.

The plaintiff insurance companies jointly insured the seaman’s employer under a policy of excess marine coverage. Prior to trial, the defendant entered into a settlement agreement with the seaman for any and all claims against it. The seaman’s employer (Steiner Trans-Ocean, Ltd.) also entered into a settlement agreement for its past and future maintenance and cure obligations, but proceeded to trial on the seaman’s personal injury claims. The underlying trial resulted in an adverse judgment against the seaman’s employer (Steiner Trans-Ocean, Ltd.) in the approximate amount $________.

The plaintiff insurance companies sought from the defendant cruise line indemnification and/or contribution for the amounts paid to the seaman as a result of both the personal injury and maintenance and cure claims. Under general maritime law, an employer can seek contribution for maintenance and cure obligations if another tortfeasor is also liable for the injury. The defendant cruise line argued that the relationship between it and Steiner Trans-Ocean, Ltd. (the seaman’s employer) was governed by a concessionaire agreement in which the employer had contracted away its right to seek contribution and indemnity from the defendant.The court granted the defendant’s motion for final summary judgment.

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