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Conservative Judges Fail to Take Away Seamen’s Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court preserved the rule which has for 50 years helped seamen recover fair compensation for their injuries. The conservative justices had urged casting aside the well-established rule, created by Congress as interpreted by the Supreme Court in 1957, and replacing it with an English common law rule which would have assisted shipowners in avoiding liability for their negligence.

The majority of Judges in CSX Transportation, Inc. v. McBride held that if employer negligence plays any part in causing injury to a seaman the employer is liable for damages.

The lawyers for CSX challenged the 1957 Supreme Court interpretation used by every federal circuit court which has considered the issue of causation under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (“FELA”) and the Jones Act (which incorporates FELA). Justice Ginsberg, writing for the majority, adopted the reasoning used by all previous federal appellate courts considering the issue of causation.

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