HomeCircuit Court Admiralty CasesMaritime Torts
Maritime Torts

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

Becker v. Poling Transportation
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
February 27, 2004

Maritime Torts:  Plaintiffs were severely burned in a fire that occurred while they were transferring petroleum from the CLARA P, a decrepit barge, to a truck that was parked dockside.  The fire was caused by the use of the portable pump instead of a vacuum truck to transfer petroleum from the barge to a truck.  The petroleum purchaser was properly found directly liable to plaintiffs since it knew that the pump on the CLARA P was out of operation and that a vacuum truck should be used to transfer the petroleum from the barge.  It also knew that the contractor it had hired did not have a vacuum truck but hired it anyway. Procedure: The Court of Appeals had appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(3), the admiralty interlocutory appeals exception.  The appellant's still pending claims for contribution did not preclude an interlocutory appeal pursuant to section 1292(a)(3) because its liability to appellees had been finally determined and was unaffected by the contribution cross-claim.  

Crear v. Omega Protein
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 26, 2004

Maritime Torts:  In support of a general negligence claim, a  plaintiff must establish that (1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached the duty; (3) the plaintiff suffered damages; and (4) the breach of the duty proximately caused the damages.  Whether a defendant owes a duty to a plaintiff depends on various factors, and the primary indicator of duty is whether the harm suffered by the plaintiff was foreseeable.  Here the district court correctly granted summary judgment to defendant fishing vessel owner where a former employee who had suffered a head injury onboard murdered his grandmother 13 months later.  A reasonable employer in defendant's position would not have foreseen that its negligence in failing to properly affix a stern pole would cause an injured seaman to murder another person.

In re Graham Offshore
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 9, 2002

Maritime Torts/Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act: Nothing in the Coast Guard mandated Emergency Evacuation Plan ("EEP") imposes a legal duty on the rig owner to oversee the operations of the boat that is used to evacuate personnel from the rig, which is instead the duty of the boat owner and the boat's time charterer.

Reserve Mooring v. American Commercial Barge Line
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 16, 2001

Maritime Torts/Damages: Physical injury to a proprietary interest is a prerequisite to recovery of economic damages in cases of an unintentional maritime tort, thus because plaintiff's mooring facility suffered no physical injury when a wreck blocked its use, its claim for purely economic damages must be denied.

Canal Barge Co. v. Torco Oil Co.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 20, 2000

Charter Parties: Charterer and cargo supplier held jointly and severally liable to barge owner for failure to pay for the clean-up costs arising from loading a cargo of spent lube oil that left a four inch residue of heavy, tar-like slug. Maritime Torts: The liability of the cargo supplier to the barge owner was not based on contract, but was based on the negligent loading of shore tank bottom residue into the barge. Demurrage/Loss of Use: Charterer and cargo supplier were jointly and severally liable for 76 days of demurrage at the charter party rate of $480 per day due to the loss of use of the barge during clean-up operations.

Christensen v. Georgia Pacific Co.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
February 1, 2002

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: Plaintiff longshoreman was injured while helping to retie the Asian Hawk, a vessel which he was working for and which had broken free from the dock during heavy weather. He filed negligence claims against the Asian Hawk's owner, a second vessel that had been tied to the same cleat on the dock, and the dock owner. Plaintiff's claim against the Asian Hawk was wrongly dismissed by the district court since the vessel did owe a duty to Plaintiff under Scindia's active control duty and the intervention duty. Further, the second vessel, while not owing Plaintiff any Scindia duties, did owe under the Longshore Act a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances. Maritime Torts: Plaintiff's claim against the dock owner may not be brought under the Longshore Act, but may be brought as a maritime tort under general maritime law. Maritime Torts (Proximate Cause): The district court's conclusion that Plaintiff's back injury was not a foreseeable result of Defendants' acts was also in error. Proximate cause is a means of cutting off liability for consequences that are so far removed from the conduct at issue that there is no justification for imposing liability. Giving inferences to Plaintiff, there is at least a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plaintiff's injury falls into this category.

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 Torts: 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.

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