Fifth Circuit Finds Personal Jurisdiction in Favor of Armstrong & Lee LLP’s Longshoreman Client

On April 11, 2014, our client was working as a longshoreman aboard the M/V Komatsushima Star, which was docked at Greens Port Terminal in Houston, Texas. While he was working in the hold of the ship, a bundle of heavy metal pipes that were improperly stowed fell and crushed our client’s leg. As a result, he suffered severe and permanent injuries.

 

M/V Komatsushima Star (Stan Laundon)

After filing suit against the ship management company, Leo Ship Management, Inc., (LSM) for failing to turn over the ship in a safe condition and other acts of negligence, Judge Sim Lake of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that LSM did not have sufficient contacts with the State of Texas.

Our Firm appealed the decision with the assistance of Kyle Lawrence and Chad Flores of Beck Redden LLP.  On March 11, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held oral argument in New Orleans on the jurisdictional issue, which was argued by Kyle Lawrence.

On May 10, 2019, in an opinion by Judge Jerry Smith, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s judgement, holding that LSM “purposely availed itself of Texas when its employees voluntarily entered the jurisdiction aboard the vessel.”  The Court further reasoned that LSM “deliberately permitted its employees to enter Texas.  It may not now escape liability resulting from its considered commercial decision.”  The Fifth Circuit denied LSM’s petition for re-hearing on June 4, 2019.

Armstrong & Lee LLP partner Joshua Lee and Megan Savage with
appellate counsel Kyle Lawrence, New Orleans, LA

Related reading: