UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
D.C. No. CV-97-01190-R
AMERICAN SEAFOODS COMPANY,
ORDER AND OPINION
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Western District of Washington
Barbara J. Rothstein, Chief Judge, Presiding
Argued and Submitted
September 13, 1999--Seattle, Washington
Memorandum Filed October 14, 1999
Order Filed December 13, 1999
Before: Alfred T. Goodwin and Mary M. Schroeder,
Circuit Judges, and William W Schwarzer,*
Senior District Judge.
Opinion by Judge Schwarzer
*The Honorable William W Schwarzer, Senior
United States District
Judge for the Northern District of California,
sitting by designation.
Gregory N. Bilyeu, Anderson, Connell &
ham, Washington, for the plaintiff-appellant.
Michael B. King and Les E. Reardanz, Lane
Lubersky, Seattle, Washington, for the defendant-appellee.
The memorandum disposition filed October
14, 1999, is
redesignated as an authored opinion by Senior
SCHWARZER, Senior District Judge:
Marvin Miles appeals from the district court's
summary judgment in favor of defendant American
Company. Miles is a seaman seeking maintenance
and cure as
a result of a right shoulder injury he sustained
vessel in 1997.
In 1995, Miles had injured his right shoulder
aboard another of defendant's vessels, the
CHAMPION. In 1996, Miles executed a valid
agreement releasing American Seafoods from
each and every
right or claim which I now have, or
have, because of any matter or thing
before the signing of this paper;
every claim for damages, maintenance,
transportation, reimbursement, or
. . whether or not now in existence or
known to me
or whether it develops or becomes
known to me
in the future, which in any way arises
out of or
is connected with my employment on the
In May 1996, Miles was released by his physician
to work without restrictions. He entered
into a new employ-
ment contract with defendant, and worked
for one season. In May of 1997, he entered
into yet another
contract with defendant to work on the AMERICAN
DYNASTY. His work aboard that vessel included
repetitive transfer of fish from a conveyer
belt to a fileting
machine. In the course of that work, Miles'
popped. Sharp pain set in, forcing him to
cease work and
return to shore for medical treatment. Miles
nance and cure for this injury.
The district court denied maintenance and
cure because it
found a dispute of fact whether the 1997
injury was a new
injury or was connected with the earlier
shoulder injury. It
then granted summary judgment because "there
is no way that
plaintiff will be able to carry his burden
of proof that this is
a new injury."
 At oral argument, counsel for defendant
ceded that because it had pled the release
as an affirmative
defense, the burden of proving that it precluded
the 1997 injury rested on defendant. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c).
Miles released defendant of "every claim
which I . . . may
hereafter have, because of any . . . thing
before the signing of this paper; including
every claim . . .
which in any way arises out of or is connected
employment on the SS `American Champion.'
" The question
is whether that release covers the 1997 injury.
 The claim Miles asserts here is "because
that "happened" after the signing of the
release and arose out
of his employment on the AMERICAN DYNASTY.
dant does not dispute that something new
happened in 1997
but argues that it resulted in a "re-injury
of his 1995 right
shoulder injury." But the release does not
from liability for a future injury of the
same part of Miles'
body caused by a subsequent event. Suppose
Miles had frac-
tured his arm, signed the release, and on
a later voyage frac-
tured that same arm; surely no one would
argue that the
release on account of the first fracture
discharges liability for
future identical fractures.
 However, defendant does not even contend--much
offer proof--that the injury claimed in 1997
is the "same"
injury, i.e., that he is trying to recover
compensation for what
he has previously been compensated for. Defendant
argues that the two injuries are "extremely
similar" and that
the 1997 injury is the "same type of right
shoulder injury" and
an "exacerbation" of the 1995 injury. Under
the terms of the
release, that argument is irrelevant. A reasonable
the release would protect defendant against
a claim for com-
plications from or recurrence of the injury
he suffered in
1995. Cf. Morta v. Korea Ins. Corp., 840
F.2d 1452 (9th Cir.
1988) (auto accident release properly barred
claim for dam-
ages resulting from brain clot attributable
to accident but
manifesting itself after execution of release).
It does not pro-
tect against a claim arising out of a new
trauma from sorting
fish on the AMERICAN DYNASTY resulting in
injury to the same shoulder, even if that
injury aggravates an
 Because the interpretation of the release
is a question of
law, we may decide that question on this
appeal. See id. at
1460. We find no ambiguity but even if there
were one, we
must decide it against the drafter. See Herrington
of Sonoma, 12 F.3d 901, 907 (9th Cir. 1993).
"[a]dmiralty courts have been liberal in
interpreting [the duty
of shipowners to provide maintenance and
cure]`for the bene-
fit and protection of seamen who are its
wards.' . .. [T]he
shipowner's liability for maintenance and
cure [is] among `the
most pervasive' of all and [is] not to be
defeated by restrictive
distinctions nor `narrowly confined.' When
there are ambigui-
ties or doubts, they are resolved in favor
of the seaman."
Vaughan v. Atkinson, 369 U.S. 527, 531-32
The judgment is reversed and the matter remanded
directions to enter judgment for plaintiff
on the maintenance
and cure claim.
REVERSED and REMANDED.