How do seamen’s rights and remedies really apply when needed? The Noble Drilling v. Deaver case reveals an important aspect of handling maintenance and cure (M&C) claims. See what happens if your employer improperly refuses you to pay for M&C.
Mr. Deaver’s Personal Injury Case
Mr. Deaver worked as a shaker hand aboard Noble’s drilling vessel M/V NOBLE TOM MADDEN. He suffered injuries to his right foot and ankle as a result of overexertion while performing his duties, so he sought compensation for:
- negligence under the Jones Act,
- unseaworthiness, and
- maintenance and cure (M&C) under the general maritime law.
Let’s see what happened to the M&C claim. Noble agreed to pay the benefits owed for Deaver’s right foot injury but refused to do so for the ankle injury. Why? The employer contended that Deaver’s ankle injury did not occur in the service of the vessel. They claimed that it occurred after the seaman’s employment aboard the vessel. However, they were not right to refuse M&C benefits to the crewman.
The Result of Improper Denials of M&C
The jury disagreed with the vessel employer’s defense. Noble was found liable for maintenance and cure benefits. The court awarded punitive damages for Noble’s refusal to pay for the ankle injury on top of what they already owed Deaver. Noble appealed, but the Texas appellate court again sided with the seaman.
Should your employer improperly deny you M&C benefits, know that you could be entitled to punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Consult with an experienced maritime attorney who knows how to help in such cases.