Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer LLC

Maritime Update: 5th Circuit Affirms Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Over Norwegian Defendant

On June 13, 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a complaint for personal injury filed in Louisiana against a Norwegian company (Akers Subsea). In the case of Patterson v. Aker Solutions, the lawsuit involved an incident that occurred off the coast of Russia. The court held that the defendant’s limited contacts with the United States, consisting only of the signing of eleven employee “secondment agreements”, were insufficient to satisfy due process concerns. These “secondment agreements” were interpreted to mean “the detachment of a person . . . from his regular organization for temporary assignment elsewhere.” Here, the “secondment agreements” sent workers from Aker Subsea in Norway to Aker Solutions, an affiliate, in Houston. Aker Subsea would maintain all of the benefits of the seconded employee in Norway, including Norwegian Social Security, home country pension and insurance. In turn, Aker Solutions was responsible for the day-to-day instruction of the seconded employee.

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