Photo of Grady Hurley

Grady Hurley can be reached at ghurley@joneswalker.com or 504.582.8224.

cargo boat
on blue sea near the coast
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Disputes arising in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) following Hurricane Ida can be subject to three bodies of law: maritime law, federal law under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and state law, whether surrogate federal law under the OCSLA or within territorial waters. Jurisdiction for claims arising in the GOM is generally a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 subject to the saving to suitors clause in certain maritime-related claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1). Jurisdictional issues can be complicated and fact-based where maritime and non-maritime “services” are “mixed,” as discussed in Baker v. Hercules Offshore, Inc., 706 F.3d 680 (5th Cir. 2013).

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as defined, consists of submerged lands, subsoil, and seabed in a specified zone up to 200 or more nautical miles seaward of the adjacent states’ jurisdiction. The OCSLA, 43 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq., regulating OCS operations extends federal jurisdiction to OCS operations and resources under 43 U.S.C. § 1349(b). Likewise, the OCSLA extends the benefits conferred by the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) to employees working on the OCS.Continue Reading Offshore Jurisdictional Issue Primer

Vessels are vital for the movement of people and property (cargo) over inland waters, across blue water, and in support of offshore energy operations in post-Ida recovery. During post-Ida salvage and repair operations, vessels are necessary. Ida resulted in the destruction of terminals, docks, and platforms and also resulted in vessels “breaking away” from their moorings and sustaining heavy damages.

Vessels are hired, rented, or leased under the terms and conditions of charter parties and Master Service Agreements, which dictate the use, warranties, obligations, and allocation of risks between the parties. Understanding the basic structure of a vessel hire is important, just as when we rent a car or truck for personal or business purposes.Continue Reading Charter Party and Service Agreements Will Lead the Way to Ida Recovery but Have Consequences

Following a major hurricane or other extreme weather event, vessel owners and operators may face liability for failure to perform their agreed contracts or for liability arising from an allision or collision. When such major hurricanes strike, to escape liability, vessel owners and operators may take advantage of two doctrines: (1) force majeure; and (2) the inevitable accident/ Act of God defense. Below we explain those doctrines and the burden of proof for each.
Continue Reading Hurricanes and Act of God Defenses

The Louisiana Maritime Association issued an updated COVID-19 Daily Report Supplement this week on September 23, 2020. In this supplement, there are updated links to current state and local guidance and some additional CDC recommendations for maritime pilots. Follow this link to access this report online.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, detailed arrangements, procedures, and protocols have been designed and implemented to help assure the health and well-being of seafarers and passengers, while maintaining day-to-day operations of marine and offshore assets.

In a recent Maritime Executive article, authors Martin Petricic and Gareth Burton of ABS worked with Rear Admiral Joyce Johnson

In our previous article “COVID-19 and the Shipowner’s Legal Obligations,” published in The Maritime Executive, and through our participation in a Zoom webinar on potential vessel operator liabilities hosted in conjunction with Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association, we discussed the standard of reasonable care owed under the Jones Act and an employer’s obligation to provide a reasonably safe place to work. An owner has a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel under the General Maritime Law.

Recently, a COVID-19-related wrongful death lawsuit was filed against a vessel owner/Jones Act employer in the Eastern District of Louisiana titled, Kathy Norwood v. Rodi Marine LLC, et al., Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-01404. This case has been assigned to Judge Eldon Fallon and will test the legal obligations owed by vessel owners.Continue Reading COVID-19-Related Jones Act Suit Filed

Part I of this series outlined remedies available under the Jones Act and vessel owner liabilities. During part II of this series, we will summarize some remedies available under the general maritime law to third-party visitors and passengers. This could include individuals riding on a crew boat, contract hands on offshore drilling vessels, or passengers on crew boats.Continue Reading COVID-19: VESSEL OWNER OBLIGATIONS, PART II

Vessel owners may have liability to their employees who become ill in the service of the ship and who may also expose other crew members. Vessel owners may also have obligations to third-party visitors and passengers exposed to COVID-19 while on board. Part I of this series will outline remedies available under the Jones Act and vessel owner liabilities.

Continue Reading COVID-19: VESSEL OWNER OBLIGATIONS, PART I