In Marston v. General Electric, 517694, the Appellate Division, Third Department, said Harbison’s activities, which were typically land based, may have converted to that of a seaman at the time of his fatal accident.
“While there is no statutory definition of a seaman [in the Jones Act], it has been held that, in order to qualify as one, an employee’s duties must contribute to the function of the vessel of accomplishment of its mission and the employee must have a ‘connection to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature,’” Justice Robert Rose (See Profile) wrote, quoting Chandris Inc. v. Latsis, 515 U.S. 347 (1995).
Rose, joined by Justices John Lahtinen (See Profile), Leslie Stein (See Profile), William McCarthy (See Profile) and Eugene Devine (See Profile), denied URS’s motion to dismiss the Jones Act claim filed by Harbison’s widow, Jennifer Marston.
Police reports indicated that Harbison, 39, of Lambertville, N.J. and a co-worker were wearing life jackets when they fell into the 38-degree river after the flat-bottomed boat went over a dam north of Albany. The co-worker managed to swim to safety.
John Wright, a principal with Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart & Rhodes in Glens Falls, represented Marston. Thompson Hine partner Richard De Palma argued for URS.