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11th Circuit Update: Maritime Employment Agencies

Jurich, et. al. v. Compass Marine, Inc.  (August 22, 2014)

In Jurich, et al. v. Compass Marine, Inc. four seamen brought claims against their maritime employment agencies, which helped them to find their jobs as seaman, for portions of their wages.

By way of background, when the seamen first engaged in the services of the employment agencies to find their positions, they signed agreements – one of which allowed the agencies to collect a portion of the seamen’s first 6 to 10 paychecks if they took the job found by the agency. The agencies found the seamen jobs and collected the wages – based on the agreement.

As a result, the seamen brought a claim under 46 USC 11109(b), which addresses attachment of wages for seamen, claiming that the agreements with the agencies were invalid under the law.

In a brief, 5 page decision, the 11th Circuit agreed, affirming the district court’s decision and finding that the agency’s inclusion of the word “irrevocable” in the agreements was contrary to the seamen’s statutory right under the law which holds that they are not bound by such agreements.

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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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