Seamen’s Costs and Fees, Exemption from Prepayment

Seamen can institute and prosecute suits and appeals in their own names in all courts in the U.S.  Such suits and appeals can be instituted for for greivances related to wages, salvage or the enforcement of laws enacted for their health or safety without prepaying fees or costs or furnishing security.[i] Generally, a local district court rule allows the court to require a person to post security for costs.  However, this cannot be applied if it conflicts with a seamen’s statutory right to bring suit without prepaying.[ii]

In Foster v. United States, 46 F.2d 359 (D. La. 1930), it was observed U.S. courts are  open to seamen, without furnishing bonds or prepayment of or making deposit to secure fees or costs, for the purpose of entering and prosecuting suits in their own name.  It is to be noted that this accords to seamen the right to prosecute, without previous payment or giving security for costs.  However, this was revised by 28 USCS § 1916.

It was observed in The Memphian, 245 F. 484, 485 (D. Mass. 1917), that an alien seamen can sue without furnishing bonds or prepayment of costs, on same footing as citizen seaman.  However,  longshoremen do not come under the purview of “seamen” although they are entitled to get relief against a ship owner for negligence and unseaworthiness.[iii]

[i] 28 USCS § 1916

[ii] Id

[iii] Manson v. Weyerhaeuser S.S. Co., 229 F. Supp. 569 (E.D. Pa. 1964)


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