Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer LLC

Maritime Update: ROV Technician Not a Seaman Under FSLA


On April 19, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case of Halle v. Galliano Marine Service overruled a Motion for Summary Judgment in the lower court and ruled that the technician for a remotely operated vehicle (ROV)  was not a seaman for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Here, plaintiff was shown to have no substantial involvement in the operation or navigation of the support vessel on which he performed his duties to operate the ROV. The case was remanded.

“We first reiterate a concept long-recognized by this Court: the definition of ‘seaman’ in the Jones Act is not equivalent to that in the FLSA. (cites deleted) The two acts are ‘separate and independent of each other.’ Id. While the Jones Act interprets seaman ‘broadly to maximize the scope of the remedial coverage,’ the exemptions under the FLSA ‘have been drawn narrowly…to minimize the number of employees who lose the Act’s protections.’ (cites deleted) The ‘expansive interpretation’ given to the word ‘seaman’ in the Jones Act…(contrasts with)…the exemptions to the FSLA…(which)…are construed narrowly against the employer. Given these differences, it is error for a court to resolve an FLSA case by resorting to legal standards, such as the definition of a ‘seaman’ or an ‘appurtenance,’ from Jones Act caselaw.”

The full case can be found here: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/16/16-30558-CV0.pdf.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Bill Schwartz at (504) 569-2900 or wschwartz@bhbmlaw.com.


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