A recent ruling by a federal judge in New York has held that the federal officer removal statute, or FORS, overrides the statute prohibiting removal of Jones Act claims.

Tanenbaum Keale LLP partner Dennis E. Vega and associate Afigo I. Okpewho-Fadahunsi recently wrote an article “Assessing Changes To The Jones Act Litigation Landscape” for Law360 (subscription required) that examines Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr.’s, decision, which stands to have far-reaching impact in litigation in which the federal government’s involvement has been a factor.

The Jones Act allows employees injured at sea a right of action in negligence against their employers and the ability to litigate those cases in state court. Congress created the Federal Officer Removal Statute, which allows government contractors an absolute right to remove a case from state court to federal court and have that case tried in a federal forum.

Vega and Okpewho-Fadahunsi write, “This ruling allows maritime defendants insight into useful litigation tools. Plaintiffs attorneys sometimes purposely include Jones Act claims in a state court case with the intention of precluding removal, but this ruling has changed the litigation landscape. There are several advantages to removing a case to federal court, not just for maritime defendants, but also for other defendants who may have contracted with the government to provide a product or service.”