Larry Taylor v Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. | Jones Act Issues ...

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Larry Taylor v Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. | Jones Act Issues, Questions and Answers | Maritime Attorneys | Jones Act Lawyers
Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:27 - Last Updated Friday, 23 October 2009 21:35
Case Name
:
Larry Taylor v Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc.
Date of Judgment
: 7
th
April 2009
Court
: U.S.D.C. - E.D. Louisiana                             
Judge
: District Judge Lemmon
Citation
: 2009 WL 961273 (E.D.La.)

Background:

The plaintiff, Larry Taylor ("Seaman") was hired by the defendant, Diamond Offshore
("Employer") to work aboard his vessel.

Seaman was a floor hand. On the morning of the incident, he was asked to climb down to a
rotary table to secure a wiper rubber in order to prevent the rubber from being pulled into the
drilling hole. Seaman was pulling on a rope to tighten the knot when he felt a pop in his neck.
He stopped working because of the increasing pain and stiffness in his neck.



Seaman was evaluated on the rig by the safety representative, who determined seaman should
go ashore for treatment. Later he was transported to Westbank Industrial Medicine, received
conservative treatment, and was sent home to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

In Hattiesburg, seaman underwent surgery. Nine months later the physician stated that seaman
had reached maximum medical improvement, but was restricted to sedentary or light work in
the future.

Employer contended the surgery was neither necessary nor reasonable under the
circumstances. Employer paid seaman maintenance and cure for a period of time, then
stopped; believing seaman was at maximum medical improvement.

Seaman filed a complaint against his employer, asserting claims of negligence under the Jones
Act, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure. A non-jury trial was held.
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Larry Taylor v Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. | Jones Act Issues, Questions and Answers | Maritime Attorneys | Jones Act Lawyers
Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:27 - Last Updated Friday, 23 October 2009 21:35

Seaman's Issue:
Seaman contended that employer denied him
adequate
maintenance and
cure benefits.

Employer's Issue:
The employer contended that seaman reached maximum medical
improvement six months after the injury. They further argued they had paid all maintenance and
cure that was due, and the surgery was unnecessary and unreasonable.

Held:

The Court first looked at seaman's original evaluation by the physician at Westbank Industrial
Medicine. The physician had given conservative treatment, such as pain killers and physical
therapy.  However, seaman still experienced pain and sought treatment from a neurosurgeon.
Thorough testing revealed seaman's continued pain. The Court thus concluded that the surgery
was necessary, based on the testimony of the neurosurgeon.

The Court then looked at calculating the maintenance and cure payments owed to seaman. For
maintenance, the employer owed seaman from the day they had stopped payment until June
2008.  

For cure, the seaman presented evidence of medical expenses related to diagnosis, treatment,
and surgery. He sought payment for the entire amount of his medical bills. The Court concluded
the employer
failed
to prove the medical bill were unreasonable or unnecessary. Seaman was
entitled to full reimbursement for all medical costs incurred.

Significance:

Maintenance requires the shipowner to provide an injured seaman with basic living
expenses while he is recovering. Once a seaman is able to work, he is expected to pay
these expenses himself.
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Larry Taylor v Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. | Jones Act Issues, Questions and Answers | Maritime Attorneys | Jones Act Lawyers
Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:27 - Last Updated Friday, 23 October 2009 21:35

Cure includes the obligation to provide the injured seaman with medications and medical
devices which will improve his ability to function, even if they don't improve his "actual"
condition. This can include long term treatments such as prostheses, wheelchairs, and
pain medications.

The cause of action for maintenance and cure is intended to give a seaman a simple
remedy for losses resulting from employment-related injuries. The Courts have liberally
construed this remedy
in favor
of the seaman.

Steve Gordon          
http://www.offshoreinjuries.com
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