It is well established that to qualify as a Jones Act seaman, a plaintiff must demonstrate that his duties contributed to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission, and that he had a connection to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in terms of both its duration and nature. This issue was recently addressed by the Fifth Circuit. Plaintiff was a crane operator and installer for Defendant. On the date of his injury, he was charged with disassembling a portable crane on an offshore platform. To do this, Plaintiff traveled aboard a vessel to the platform where he disassembled a crane, loaded the crane onto the vessel, and returned to shore aboard the vessel. While disassembling the crane, Plaintiff fell approximately nineteen feet from his position on a gang box, causing injuries that left him permanently paralyzed.
The issue in this case was whether Plaintiff could establish that he was a Jones Act seaman. Plaintiff argued that he was a seaman because he was working in service of the vessel that brought him to the platform to dismantle the crane, and then returned him to shore. The Court deferred to its opinion in Hufnagel v. Omega Service Industries, Inc., 182 F.3d 340 (5th Cir. 1999), where it held that workers aboard vessels that transport them to their work stations on offshore drilling platforms are not seamen. The court in the instant matter found that Plaintiff could not demonstrate he was a Jones Act seaman. His duties in no way contributed to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission, his connection to the vessel was transitory and fortuitous, and he had no substantial connection to the vessel.