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Old 04-04-2013
HighNDry HighNDry is offline
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Re: Sinking of Rule 62

Apparently the lawsuit stemming from this tragedy is still churning. What's very interesting is that it was filed under the Jones Act. That doesn't cover volunteer, unpaid crew on yachts but it does cover paid crew. Laura's estate is claiming that she was paid crew because she was given airfare and meals, interviewed for the position, and given orders as a crew member.

I can't post links but you can find them at raleyraleylawfirm dot com.

Raley & Raley Wins Motion in Laura Zekoll Jones Act Death Case

Wed, 01/09/2013 - 13:42 -- craley
After 16 months of discovery and defense motions aimed at dismissing the case, Raley & Raley just received a very favorable Order of Remand from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in a Jones Act case filed on behalf of the Estate of Laura Zekoll. Ms. Zekoll was lost at sea and killed on November 13, 2010 near Lynyard Cay, Abacos, Bahamas, when her employer, Richard Ross, the Captain of the sailing vessel RULE 62, attempted to enter the unlit and unmarked North Bar Channel at night in what locals call a "rage sea". Capt. Ross had never navigated this area and had very limited experience sailing in the open ocean. Angela T. Cushwa, as Administrator of the Estate of Laura Zekoll, Deceased v. Richard H. Ross, Case No. 1:11-cv-03485-CAP.

January 9, 2013: Northern District of Georgia Remands Jones Act Case handled by Raley & Raley to Fulton County State Court

In a 12-page Order entered on January 9, 2013, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted a Motion to Remand filed by Raley & Raley on behalf of their Client, the Estate of Laura Zekoll.

On November 13, 2010, Ms. Zekoll was swept overboard and killed when her employer, the Captain of the S/V RULE 62, attempted to enter the unlit and unmarked North Bar Channel, Lynyard Cay, Abacos, Bahamas at night in a violent sea state.

Jones Act cases are not removable from State Court to Federal Court. Raley & Raley filed the case in the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia. The Defendant, Richard Ross, removed the case to Federal Court, alleging that Ms. Zekoll was not a Jones Act seaman.

The District Court ultimately granted the Motion to Remand filed by Raley & Raley on behalf of the Zekoll Estate, holding that "...the Plaintiff here has put forth facts that could, if true, demonstrate that Zekoll was hired as a crew member for the Rule 62, meaning that she was acting as a sea-based worker at the time of the accident. The plaintiff avers that (1) Ross paid Zekoll compensation in the form of airfare and meals, (2) interviewed her for the crew position, and (3) gave her orders as a crewmember while the ship was underway...Given these allegations, the court concludes that the defendant has not met his burden to show that the plaintiff has fraudulently pled a Jones Act claim. These facts, if true, could lead a rational trier of fact to conclude that Zekoll's connection to the Rule 62 was substantial both in its duration and nature. Therefore, this case should be remanded to state court as a non-removable Jones Act claim." Angela T. Cushwa, as Administrator of the Estate of Laura Zekoll, Deceased v. Richard H. Ross, Case No. 1:11-cv-03485-CAP.
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