By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on
Monday declined to weigh whether a law aimed at holding
employers liable for accidents at sea applies to an accidental
shooting on an oil rig.
Keith Beech was killed in December 2009 while on board a rig
in the Gulf of Mexico owned by Hercules Drilling Co. He died
after a colleague, Michael Cosenza, accidentally discharged a
pistol while they were watching television. Cosenza was on duty
at the time.
The legal question was whether Hercules was liable under the
Jones Act, a federal law that applies to employer negligence at
Beech's widow, Amanda Beech, sued the company following the
accident. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled against Beech, saying Cosenza was "not acting in
the course of his employment" when he fired the gun.
The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case means the
appeals court ruling is left intact.
The case is Beech v. Hercules Drilling Co., U.S. Supreme
Court, No. 12-632.
For petitioner: Ryan Bates of Yetter Coleman.
For respondent: David Bland of LeBlanc Bland.
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