United States District Court, D. Alaska
Russel Holland United States District Judge
for Cure for Life
moves for a declaration that he is entitled to cure for
life. This motion is opposed. Oral argument was
not requested and is not deemed necessary.
is Thomas Myers. Defendants are Aleutian Endeavors, LLC and
alleges that in June of 2015, he was working as a
“deckhand/cook/engineer” on the M/V EXITO when he
“fell while running across the
deck.” Plaintiff also alleges that he was injured
in a separate incident when he was “struck in the back
by a loose deck board.” As a result of these two
incidents, plaintiff alleges that he “sustain[ed]
severe, painful and disabling injuries to his low back [and]
left hip and knee[.]” Plaintiff contends that the
injuries he suffered will “likely require medical
attention for the remainder of his natural
commenced this action on November 20, 2017. In his complaint,
plaintiff seeks, among other things, maintenance and cure.
now moves for a declaration that he is entitled to cure for
life for his permanent injuries.
maritime law, . . . seamen [are] entitled to
‘maintenance and cure' from the owners of their
ships.” Jones v. Reagan, 748 F.2d 1331, 1334
(9th Cir. 1984). “‘Maintenance' is a living
allowance that permits the seaman to obtain housing and food
while he recovers[.]” Id. “[C]ure'
is payment for medical care[.]” Id.
“Irrespective of fault, the vessel owner is obliged to
pay . . . maintenance and cure.” Berg v. Fourth
Shipmor Assocs., 82 F.3d 307, 309 (9th Cir. 1996).
Farrell v. United States, 336 U.S. 511, 512 (1949),
Farrell “was grievously injured” while in service
of a merchant vessel. Farrell's injuries were permanent
and as a result, he argued that he was “entitled to
maintenance as long as he is disabled, which in this case is
for life.” Id. at 513. The Court rejected
Farrell's argument and held that a vessel owner's
obligation to pay maintenance ended when the seaman reaches
maximum cure or recovery. Id. at 517-19. “The
accepted legal standard holds that maximum cure is achieved
when it appears probable that further treatment will result
in no betterment of the seaman's
condition.” Pelotto v. L & N Towing Co.,
604 F.2d 396, 400 (5th Cir. 1979).
did not argue that he was entitled to cure for life
because at that time, seamen were entitled to free medical
care at Marine Hospitals, which the federal government had
begun operating in 1798. Jones, 748 F.2d at 1334.
But, “[i]n 1981, Congress enacted the Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act of 1981, . . . a comprehensive
appropriations bill that adjusted the eligibility
requirements and amounts budgeted for a large number of
federal programs. Among its other provisions, the Budget Act
ordered the closure” of the Marine Hospitals.
argues that with the closure of the Marine Hospitals, the
maintenance and cure doctrine reverted back to its status
between the signing of the Constitution in 1787 and the
establishment of the Marine Hospital system in 1798. And,
plaintiff contends that between 1787 and 1798, seamen were
entitled to lifetime cure from shipowners. Plaintiff cites to
Atlantic Sounding Co., Inc. v. Townsend, 557 U.S.
404 (2009), in support of this argument. The issue in
Atlantic Sounding was “whether an ...