May an Action for Damages Be Brought in a State Court by a Seaman Injured in the Course of His Duty, or by His Personal Representatives in Case of His Death, under Section Thirty-Three of the Jones Act?
Section 33 of the Jones Act, amending Section 20 of the Seamen's Act of 1915,2 gives to a seaman injured in the course of his duty, or his personal representatives in case of his death, the right to proceed at his election under the provisions of the Employers' Liability Act. The last sentence of the Jones Act, it will be noticed, reads as follows: "Jurisdiction in such actions shall be under the court of the district in which the defendant employer resides or in which his principal office is located." The question is, what is the meaning of the words "the court of the district"? Did Congress mean the federal court or did it intend to give jurisdiction to the state courts also? This question has been accompanied by another, equally important, which concerns the right of the defendant to remove an action brought under the act in question from the state court to the federal court according to Section 28 of the Judicial Code. This right of removal was expressly refused to those defending an action under the Employers' Liability Act in a state court, so the difficulty here is to determine whether the language of Section 33 shows an intention on the part of Congress to embrace that provision. While there are a number of decisions touching these questions they are not all in harmony, so it will be the purpose here to set forth the gist of these holdings and to attempt to draw a conclusion as to their probable effect.
Clifford M. Langhorne,
Notes and Comments,
May an Action for Damages Be Brought in a State Court by a Seaman Injured in the Course of His Duty, or by His Personal Representatives in Case of His Death, under Section Thirty-Three of the Jones Act?,
Wash. L. & Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol1/iss2/8