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MacRury v. American Steamship Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

July 11, 2017

MARK MACRURY, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STAY

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge

         On November 2, 2016, Plaintiff Mark MacRury filed a complaint against Defendant American Steamship Company. ECF No. 1. In the complaint, MacRury alleges that he suffered an injury while working as a crew member on one of Defendant's vessels because Defendant negligently assigned MacRury to activities it knew or should have known would result in injury. Compl. at 1-2. On April 27, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to stay litigation in favor of arbitration. ECF No. 9. Five days later, MacRury filed an amended complaint. ECF No. 10. Defendant alleges that the amended complaint does not moot the motion for a stay. For the following reasons, the motion to stay will be granted.

         I.

         MacRury's amended complaint largely mirrors his original complaint. Am. Compl., ECF No. 10. He premises his claim for relief on the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104 and general maritime law. MacRury alleges that, while serving as a crew member on one of Defendant's vessels, he was assigned to work activities, from November 7, 2014, through August 2016, that Defendant “knew or should have known would result in injury.” Id. at 2. MacRury alleges that Defendant's negligent assignment was “separate, apart, and exclusive of any pre-existing conditions” that MacRury might have suffered from. Id.[1] Rather, he contends that his injury is traceable to “the inadequate work procedures, assistance, and equipment he was provided.” Id.

         He alleges that he sustained “injury to both shoulders resulting from said failure to provide a safe place to work and seaworthy vessel.” Id.

         In its motion to stay, Defendant provides additional factual context. Defendant alleges that MacRury was working as a Conveyorman on one of Defendant's vessels on September 5, 2013. On that day, MacRury allegedly suffered a shoulder injury. Claims Arb. Agree., ECF No.6, Ex. A. On February 27, 2015, MacRury and Defendant executed a Claims Arbitration Agreement. Id. That agreement will be reproduced in part:

WHEREAS, Mark Macrury . . . was employed as a Conveyorman on the M/V H. Lee White and allegedly became ill or injured on September 5, 2013, American Steamship Company . . . [has] a duty to pay maintenance and cure because ASC was the owner and/or operator of the vessel and/or the employer of Mark Macrury. ASC has the obligation to pay Mark Macrury $16.00 PER DAY maintenance and $188.00 PER WEEK contractual support benefit (CSB) (the CSB payments being required for a period of one year only) pursuant to the contract with the SIU.
It is the position of ASC that ASC is responsible only for maintenance and cure and is not responsible or liable for any other damages in regard to Mark Macrury's alleged illness or injuries under the doctrine of unseaworthiness, the Jones Act or any other applicable law. Nonetheless, ASC is prepared to make advances against settlement, arbitration award or judgment of any claim that could arise under the doctrine of unseaworthiness, the Jones Act, or any other applicable law provided Mark Macrury agrees to arbitrate these claims.
Therefore, in consideration of Mark Macrury agreeing to arbitrate all claims against ASC . . . arising under the theory of unseaworthiness, Jones Act, or any other applicable law, . . . ASC agrees to pay Mark Macrury $86.80 per day (to be paid in biweekly installments of $1, 215.20), in addition to $16.00 per day in maintenance and $188 per week CSB, as an advance against settlement, arbitration award or judgment, until he has been declared fit for duty, and/or maximum medical improvement, and/or October 27, 2014, whichever occurs first.

Id. at 1. (emphasis omitted).

         The Arbitration Agreement goes on to list eight numbered statements which MacRury adopted by signing the agreement. Id. at 1-2. The most relevant statements are as follows:

(1) I understand that by signing this agreement, I am waiving my right to have my claim decided by a jury. My claim will be decided by an arbitrator.
(2) I understand that I am agreeing to arbitrate all claims arising out of the incident described above, including any claims for medical conditions that ...

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