Freehill partner Jack Walsh, arguing on October 18, 2017 before the Third Circuit sitting en banc, successfully overturned the Circuit’s 1990 decision on maintenance and cure in the case on Barnes v. Andover Co. L.P., 900 F.2d 630 (3d Cir. 1990). In the current case of Joyce v. Maersk Line Ltd. the plaintiff, James Joyce, was a member of the Seafarers International Union. Joyce signed Articles of Agreement with Maersk Line Ltd. calling for him to serve on the MAERSK OHIO. The Union had negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with Maersk, which was incorporated in the Articles of Agreement and which governed the terms of all unionized seafarers’ employment with Maersk. Among those terms was the rate to be paid for maintenance, cure and unearned wages in the event of injury or illness. The definition of unearned wages in the collective bargaining agreement did not include overtime. Plaintiff Joyce sought to have overtime included in his unearned wages, relying on Barnes, where the Third Circuit had said that the specifics of what is covered by maintenance could be modified by a court, even if the specifics were established in a collective bargaining agreement. The Third Circuit revisited its prior ruling in Barnes, and concluded that a freely chosen labor union could bargain most effectively to protect employees’ rights, and that the results of such collective bargaining should not be lightly repudiated. Therefore, the Third Circuit overturned Barnes and refused to include overtime in the unearned wages to be paid to Joyce. The court did, however, provide what it called a “backstop protection” for seamen, leaving room for them to argue that an entire collective bargaining agreement was “unfair or inadequate.” With its decision in Joyce v. Maersk Line Ltd. the Third Circuit has brought itself in line with six other federal courts of appeals which have previously ruled on this issue. Click here for the full decision.