MARCH 25, 2011 by Bill Abbott
A recent Jones Act case was appealed in the United States Court of Appeals. The case involved Orlando Ramirez and American Pollution Control Corporation (AMPOL). Ramirez and his maritime attorneys filed a Jones Act claim for maintenance and cure against AMPOL after a fall caused him to injure his neck, shoulder, wrist, and elbow. AMPOL made a motion for a summary judgment on the grounds that Ramirez was not entitled to maintenance and cure because of pre-existing conditions he failed to mention on his job application.
The district court ruled in favor of AMPOL for summary judgment. They found Ramirez to be forty percent at fault and awarded him $1800 for lost wages. Ramirez and his maritime attorneys appealed the decision pertaining to his percentage of fault. After careful review, the appellate courts affirmed the district court’s decision. Ramirez had concealed prior injuries and workers’ compensation claims on his application. The appellate courts affirmed that had he been honest on his application, further examination would have been called for by AMPOL. It was also noted that he would have been terminated if AMPOL had found out about the pre-existing condition before the injury happened.
Ramirez’s maritime attorneys had a difficult case with this one. Since Ramirez withheld pertinent information on his employment application, it made his Jones Act claim difficult to prove. While he did receive a small settlement, his maritime attorneys most likely would have succeeded in a larger award, if not for the pre-existing conditions.
Anytime you are filling out a job application, honesty is a priority, especially in the maritime field. The Jones Act is in place to protect maritime workers. However, it is an intricate act best interpreted by experienced maritime attorneys. Ramirez should have been honest on his application. AMPOL would have probably ordered a physician’s release to work. Then, when the injury occurred, his claim would have had a different outcome.
If you are considering a job in the maritime field, be honest on your application. Potential injuries in the future require your honesty. Should you suffer an injury, your maritime attorneys will be able to help you get your just compensation.