HomeCircuit Court Admiralty CasesAdmiralty Jurisdiction
Admiralty Jurisdiction

The following are digests and case links to Circuit Court Admiralty Cases that have as an issue admiralty jurisdiction:

South Port Marine v. Gulf Oil Ltd.
First Circuit Court of Appeals
December 7, 2000

Admiralty Jurisdiction: plaintiff's floating docks that were damaged by an oil spill were extensions of the land and hence a tort that causes damage to them does not occur wholly on navigable waters and therefore constitutes an action at law, rather than in admiralty; OPA 90/Jury Trial: although the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) does not create a statutory right to a jury trial, plaintiff has a Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial of its claims under the Act since they are analogous to causes of action at common law, rather than causes of action in admiralty; Punitive Damages: punitive damages are not available under OPA for marine pollution claims, nor are they available under the general maritime law in view of the enactment of OPA, which has supplanted the existing maritime law of punitive damages in cases of marine pollution.

Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Orient Overseas Containers Lines (UK)
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
October 27, 2000

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): COGSA does not apply as a matter of law after goods have been discharged from the vessel, thus COGSA did not apply as a matter of law to the inland portion of an intermodal carriage from Wisconsin to the Netherlands; COGSA could apply as a matter of contract between the parties, but the bill of lading, although potentially ambiguous, should be construed as applying by contract the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road ("CMR") to plaintiff's claim arising from the alleged theft of cargo in Belgium en route to the Netherlands; Admiralty Jurisdiction:  a "mixed"  maritime/non-maritime contract is subject to admiralty jurisdiction only where (1) the claim arises from a breach of maritime obligations that are severable from the non-maritime obligations of the contract or (2) the land-based portion of the contract is "merely incidental" to the sea-based portion; since neither of these exceptions is applicable here, plaintiff's cargo damage claim is subject to the court's diversity jurisdiction.

LeBlanc v. Cleveland
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
December 9, 1999

Admiralty Jurisdiction: navigability for admiralty jurisdiction purposes requires that the body of water support commercial activity, thus there is no admiralty jurisdiction in a case arising from an injury that occurred on a body of water that was only used for non-commercial purposes. 

Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Co.
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
June 23, 2000

Admiralty Jurisdiction: the court had admiralty jurisdiction over a collision between a jet ski and an anchored vessel in Puerto Rican territorial waters, thus federal choice of law principles apply; Choice of Law: application of those principles results in the choice of Pennsylvania law to determine compensatory damages and Puerto Rican law to determine punitive damages;  federal maritime law principles, however, apply in determining the liability of the defendant in this admiralty action for the death of a non-seaman brought pursuant to a state wrongful death/survival statute.

Fernandez v. Haynie
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 25, 2002

Marine Insurance/Admiralty Jurisdiction: A fishing vessel owner's contract claim against its broker for failure to place his insurance with an "A" rated domestic insurer was within the court's admiralty jurisdiction. 

Dahlen v. Gulf Crews, Inc.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
February 4, 2002

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act/Charter Parties: The standard of care owed a longshore worker by a vessel owner as articulated in Scindia and Howlett does not explicitly apply to time charterers. But, as no other case articulating the duty owed by a time charterer in such a situation could be found, the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing a jury instruction that applied Scindia to the time charterer. Indemnity: The vessel owner did not owe the time charterer an indemnity under the charter's indemnity and insurance clause since the injury to Plaintiff did not arise out of or relate to the performance of the vessel during the charter. Admiralty Jurisdiction/Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ("OCSLA"): The district court erred in applying the Admiralty Extension Act, 46 U.S.C. § 740, and maritime law since Plaintiff's alleged injury was not caused by the defective appurtenance of a ship on navigable waters and, furthermore, the OCSLA specifically regards the artificial islands on the OCS as areas where state law should apply unless there is a conflict with federal law. 

Weaver v. Hollywood Casino-Aurora
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
June 21, 2001

Admiralty Jurisdiction/Jones Act: a party seeking to invoke federal admiralty jurisdiction over a personal injury claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.1333(1) and pursuant to the the Jones Act must satisfy conditions of location on navigable waters and of connection with maritime activity; since the record indicated that the portion of the river where the casino boat was located may not have been navigable in fact, the case was remanded so that the district court could determine whether subject matter jurisdiction existed.

Ventura Packers v. F/V Jeanine Kathleen
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 11, 2002

Maritime Liens/Admiralty Jurisdiction: The Federal Maritime Lien Act, 46 U.S.C. § 31342, establishes statutory elements, which if met, invoke the admiralty jurisdiction of the federal courts. The district court therefore erred in dismissing plaintiff's necessaries lien claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which dismissal was based on a finding that the contract between plaintiff and the vessel interests was not wholly maritime and that its maritime portion could not be severed from its non-maritime portion without prejudice to the vessels. Although this finding was correct, the Federal Maritime Lien Act provides an independent basis for subject matter jurisdiction where the plaintiff, as here, has provided necessaries to a vessel.

Herman Family Revocable Trust v. The Vessel Teddy Bear
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 13, 2001

Admiralty Jurisdiction: since there was no admiralty jurisdiction over this dispute concerning the aborted contract to sell a yacht, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and had no power to adjudicate either the in rem admiralty claims or the supplemental state law claims.

La Reunion Francaise v. Barnes
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 3, 2001

Marine Insurance/Admiralty Jurisdiction: a federal court has admiralty jurisdiction over a marine insurance policy that, besides covering damage to a boat while on the water, requires the policyholder to store his boat on land for half the year, insures against theft while on land, and limits navigation of the boat to inland waters of California.

Morris v. Princess Cruises
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 10, 2001

Procedure/Admiralty Jurisdiction: removal of the case from state to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(1) was proper since the only non-diverse defendant had been fraudulently joined; plaintiff's subsequent joinder of the non-diverse Insurers thereupon defeated the court's diversity jurisdiction, but because the district court would have had original admiralty jurisdiction over this action had plaintiff filed suit in federal court in the first instance, her failure to move for remand upon joining the non-diverse defendants waived any possible objection to removal jurisdiction; Maritime Tort: plaintiff's tort claims arising from the admittedly harrowing experience suffered in Bombay after her husband had been medically evacuated from the cruise vessel were properly dismissed since plaintiff failed to adduce any evidence suggesting that any possible breach of duty on the part of Princess Cruises caused harm to plaintiff or her husband.

Commercial Union Insurance v. Sea Harvest Seafood Co.
Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 11, 2001

Marine Insurance/Admiralty Jurisdiction: a claim under an open marine cargo insurance policy covering a shipment of frozen shrimp from Bangkok, Thailand to Philadelphia via California and Chicago was within the court's admiralty jurisdiction although the loss did occur during the Chicago to Philadelphia overland portion of the shipment; the cargo owner's claim of loss under the policy was properly denied by the district court under admiralty law since the loss resulted from a failure to attach a generator to the refrigerated container, which was not a loss due to "derangement or breakdown of the refrigerating machinery," as the term is used in marine insurance policies.

Bunge Co. v. Freeport Marine Repair
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
January 30, 2001

Collisions/Casualties: although Hull No. 40 was under construction when it broke from its moorings during a hurricane and damaged a grain-loading facility along the waterway, it was a vessel for purposes of admiralty tort jurisdiction and the Louisiana Rule, which stipulates that a moving vessel that strikes a stationary object is presumed to be at fault;  Admiralty Jurisdiction: since the allision occurred in navigable waters due to the imperfect mooring of a nearly complete vessel, the incident bore a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity and was properly within admiralty tort jurisdiction; Government Regulation: the grain-loading facility was not in violation of a 33 U.S.C. 403, which requires a permit for structures that partially obstruct a waterway, since the facility was grandfathered under government regulations and did not interfere with navigation; thus the Pennsylvania Rule, which bars a plaintiff in violation of a federal statute from recovering damages unless that plaintiff can prove that its own violation could not have caused the loss, is not applicable.

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