New case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals relating to commercial vessel owner liability for injuries to federal fisheries observers. Not surprisingly, owners are immune from such suits. The case is Bauer v. MRAG Ams., Inc., 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 22111, and the source opinion can be found here. As a general rule, an observer "that is ill, disabled, injured, or killed from service as an observer on that vessel may not bring a civil action . . . against the vessel owner." Id. 1383a(e)(7)(A). We conclude that this immunity provision precludes a negligence suit by a federal observer who was injured while taking a restroom break. The claimant in this case argued that because her injury occurred during a bathroom break, the immunity provision should not apply. The court found the bathroom break to be incidental to her duties onboard and found the owner immune from suit.
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