Shane O. Balloun, The Defendant's Right to Jury Trial in Jones Act Claims: Washington State's Endicott Opinion Invites Much Needed Supreme Court Review, 9 Seton Hall Cir. Rev. 1-34 (2012)
Introduction:The Jones Act seaman has de facto power over whether a jury will hear his claim through his ability, under Panama Railroad v. Johnson, to elect that his claim proceed at law or in admiralty. A significant conflict of laws exists between the federal circuits and several state courts regarding whether this election power means the seaman may divest the defendant of the right to a jury trial by later amending his complaint from law to admiralty. The Fifth Circuit has held that a plaintiff whose at-law Jones Act claim rests on non-diversity jurisdiction may amend his complaint to elect admiralty jurisdiction, even if the defendant previously demanded a jury trial. Several federal circuits that have opined on the issue, including the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, have adopted similar views.