June 11, 2016 Articles

Seaman’s Manslaughter

Learn how and when to apply this somewhat archaic piece of legislation.

By Nicholas J. Cenac

In a recent case decided by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals arising from the BP Deepwater Horizon litigation, the Fifth Circuit, applying the principle of ejusdem generis, found that BP well site leaders did not fall within the category of persons covered by the Seaman’s Manslaughter Act, and thus could not be found liable thereunder.

The Seaman’s Manslaughter Act, also referred to as the Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute, or simply Seaman’s Manslaughter, is a somewhat archaic piece of legislation that was enacted in the early 1800s in response to several casualties that occurred after the advent and rapid proliferation of steam engines used to power marine vessels.

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