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Jones Act employers have long been frustrated by their inability to recover these benefits when they’re later deemed to be illegitimate. Boudreaux v. Transocean Deepwater Inc. appeared to have closed the door on the possibility of recovery, but a recent ruling in Louisiana may have reopened it.
First, some background: In Boudreaux, the plaintiff sued for damages from an on-the-job back injury. Transocean established a McCorpen defense (McCorpen v. Central Gulf Steamship Corp.) to liability and counterclaimed to recover maintenance and cure benefits already paid. Such a defense can be used when the employer requires a medical exam as part of the hiring process and can prove three conditions: (1) that the seaman intentionally hid pertinent medical history; (2) that the history in question was material to the company’s decision to hire the seaman; and (3) that there was a causal link between a concealed, pre-existing condition and the on-the-job injury.