HomeCircuit Court Admiralty Cases2000 (May-August)
The following are links to selected Circuit Court opinions concerning admiralty and maritime law issued during the period May through August, 2000.

Prima U.S. Inc. v. M/V Addiriyah
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
August 24, 2000

Carriage of Goods: a freight forwarder sued in indemnity for damages to ocean cargo did not issue a bill of lading, and thus was not liable where it had acted reasonably in selecting the parties that actually performed the transportation services.

In re Dolphin Services Inc.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
August 24, 2000

Limitation of Liability Act: an original state court petition for personal injury damages that incorrectly identified the subject vessel was not sufficient notice to trigger the Limitation of Liability Act's provision requiring limitation actions to be filed within six months of receiving written notice of claim. 

Adams v. Unione Mediterranea di Sicurta
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
August 14, 2000

Salvage: the law of salvage, rather than the law of finds, is applicable absent clear and convincing evidence that the owner of the sunken steel cargo made an express declaration abandoning title, thus where owner had not expressly abandoned cargo, but had assigned rights in the cargo to its underwriters, the underwriters retained title to the sunken steel cargo; since the steel cargo had not been abandoned, the salvors through their salvage efforts did not become owners of the cargo and by selling the cargo were liable for negligent conversion; salvors were, however, entitled to an offset for a salvage award since they had not acted in bad faith in salvaging the cargo; Marine Insurance: the negligent conversion was not an "accident" and thus the salvors' liability was not covered under the relevant general liability policy.

Unocal Co. v. United States
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
August 7, 2000

Oil Pollution Act of 1990 ("OPA 90"): Unocal, the owner of an oil pipeline that ruptured causing contamination of a local creek and river, was a responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and could state a complete defense to the strict liability of the Act only if it could establish that (1) the discharge was caused solely by the act or omission of a third party; (2) the responsible party exercised due care with respect to the pipeline; and (3) the responsible party took precautions against foreseeable acts or omissions of third parties and the foreseeable consequences of those acts or omissions; the jury's finding that Unocal had established its defense to strict liability was supported by substantial evidence, thus the verdict awarding Unocal reimbursement of the clean-up costs against the responsible third parties was upheld.

White v. Bethlehem Steel Co.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
August 2, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: plaintiff longshore worker's tort claim against Bethlehem Steel was properly dismissed since he was under the authoritative direction and control of Bethlehem at the time of his accident, thus he was Bethlehem's borrowed servant and the Act is his exclusive remedy. 

Kreschollek v. Southern Stevedoring
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
July 28, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: since there is no federal government action involved in an insurer's unilateral decision to terminate benefits under the Act, the Act is not unconstitutional on its face in allowing employers and their insurance carriers to terminate payment of workers' compensation benefits without notice.

Staftex Staffing v. DOWCP
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 25, 2000 (Revised)

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: the Administrative Law Judge's calculation of the average weekly wage for compensation purposes was upheld, but the award of attorneys fees to the claimant was reversed since the claimant failed to submit the question of average weekly wages to an informal conference.

Sea Hunt, Inc. v. Unidentified Vessels, Kingdom of Spain
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 21, 2000

Abandoned Shipwreck Act ("ASA"): under admiralty law, where an owner comes forward to assert ownership in a shipwreck, abandonment must be shown by express acts, thus salvor failed to prove that Spain had abandoned its naval vessels for purposes of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act where it failed to show an express abandonment by clear and convincing evidence; International Law: a standard of express abandonment is also required under the 1902 Treaty of Friendship and General Relations between the United States and Spain; the 1763 Definitive Treaty of Peace between France, Great Britain, and Spain, which ended the Seven Years War and transferred most of Spain's territories in the new world to Great Britain, does not contain clear and convincing evidence of the "express abandonment" of the Spanish naval vessels; Salvage: the salvor is not entitled to a salvage award since it is the right of the owner of any vessel to refuse unwanted salvage.

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.

International Aircraft Recovery v. United States
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
July 17, 2000

Salvage: the admiralty law of salvage permits the owner of a vessel
in marine peril to decline the assistance of others so long as only the owner's property interests are at stake, thus the United States was entitled to reject the salvor's efforts to salvage a Navy bomber sunk off the coast of Florida; whether the salvor is eligible for a salvage award for efforts in obtaining the location of the submerged bomber, videotaping the wreck, and returning the plane's canopy and radio mast to dry land depends on when the United States rejected the salvage efforts.

Flanagan Stevedores, Inc. v. Gallagher
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 14, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: the Court upheld the Administrative Law Judge's award which: entitled claimant to two periods of disability, calculated claimant's weekly wage for determining the disability award, awarded claimant penalties for late payment of compensation and awarded claimant attorneys fees.

In Re: Complaint of Transporter Marine, Inc.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 13, 2000

Limitation of Liability Act/Coast Guard Regulation: the Coast Guard's adjudication of charges arising from the enforcement of its drug and alcohol testing regulations are exempt from exoneration or limitation proceedings under the Limitation of Liability Act. 

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. 

Stevens v. Premier Cruises, Inc.
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
June 22, 2000

Government Regulation: the District Court erred in concluding that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") does not as a matter of law apply to foreign-flag cruise ships sailing in United States waters, thus the dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint under the ADA for failure to state a claim is reversed.

Polo Ralph Lauren v. Tropical Shipping
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
June 21, 2000

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): although Polo Ralph Lauren was not named in the bill of lading, the bill of lading's reference to the "owner of the goods" could encompass Polo Ralph Lauren, thus summary judgment dismissing Polo Ralph Laurens' cargo claim is reversed; COGSA is the exclusive remedy in cases involving a carriage of goods between the United States and foreign ports.

District No. 1, Pacific Coast v. Maritime Administration
District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals
June 16, 2000

Government Regulation:  section 9 of the 1916 Shipping Act is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the executive branch, thus the Maritime Administration's granting of applications to transfer the registry of eight vessels from the United States to the Republic of Marshall Islands pursuant to section 9 will not be disturbed.

Second Circuit Court of Appeals
June 16, 2000

Bankruptcy: the Second Circuit upheld the Bankruptcy Court's order that Appellant may not file a "Master Motion" to transfer all of its 15, 000 claims to the Multidistrict Litigation Panel, but must file separate civil actions for each of its personal injury claims against the debtor United States Lines.

Local 1351 ILA v. Sea-Land Service
Fifth Circuit Court of  Appeals
June 9, 2000

Arbitration: the District Court's decision to order a tripartite arbitration where a final judgment had previously been entered based on an arbitration award between two of the parties was in error. 

Solano v. Gulf King 55
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 5, 2000

Choice of Law: Nicaraguan law applies to plaintiffs' personal injury claims where: (1) the claims arose on shrimping vessels operated exclusively in the territorial waters of Nicaragua, (2) the plaintiffs were all Nicaraguan citizens and residents, and (3) the employment contracts were entered into in Nicaragua; the law of the flag and the national allegiance of the defendants Lauritzen-Rhoditis factors, which supported application of American law, would be discounted in this case where the shrimping vessels  operated exclusively in NIcaraguan waters and were more analogous to fixed drilling platforms than vessels in traditional maritime commerce.

Mallard Bay Drilling v. Herman
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 2, 2000

Coast Guard Regulation: OSHA has no jurisdiction to regulate the working conditions of seamen aboard a drilling  barge, which is a vessel in navigation subject to the Coast Guard's exclusive regulatory jurisdiction.

Jackson v. North Bank Towing
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 2, 2000

Jones Act: seaman's foreign law tort claims brought in federal district court must be dismissed on res judicata grounds since they had previously been dismissed by a Louisiana state court. (Note: this decision vacates the Court's January 31, 2000 decision which held that the Jones Act did not bar a foreign seaman from bringing maritime claims pursuant to foreign law in US courts.) 

Thypin Steel v. Asoma Corporation
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
May 25, 2000

Maritime Arrest/In Rem Action: Supplemental Admiralty Rule D explicitly applies to an in rem possessory action to acquire title to maritime property, a category under which a bill of lading clearly falls, thus the plaintiff was entitled to arrest a bill of lading pursuant to Rule D and obtain in rem jurisdiction.

Neptune Orient Lines v. Burlington
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 24, 2000

Carriage of Goods: the appropriate measure of damages under the Carmack Amendment for the loss of a container load of Nike shoes on the inland portion of a carriage from Indonesia to Tennessee was the market value at destination, not the replacement cost.

Mooney v. City of New York
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
May 22, 2000

Jones Act: a formal workers' compensation award that settles all of the plaintiff's  claims in their entirety waives the plaintiff's Jones Act claim, thus the case will be remanded to the District Court to determine if a waiver took place, which would bar plaintiff from pursuing a Jones Act claim.

HIH Marine Services, Inc. v. Fraser
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
May 19, 2000

Marine Insurance: under the doctrine of uberrimae fidei, a material misrepresentation on an application for marine insurance is grounds for voiding the policy; the insured's misrepresentation that the insured yacht was in its custody pursuant to a charter party was considered material since it might have had a bearing on the risk to be assumed by the insurer, thus the policy was void and the insurer had no obligation to pay a total loss claim; Choice of Law: American and Jamaican law on this marine insurance issue are largely congruent, thus the District Court's decision to apply American law will not be addressed.

Louisiana Ins. Guaranty Assoc. v. Bunol & DOWCP
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 12, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: the Benefit Review Board's determinations concerning the casual relationship between the claimant's disability and a work-related injury, the extent of that disability, the  situs of the injury and the claimant's residual wage earning capacity were all supported by substantial evidence and were in accordance with the law, thus they were affirmed on appeal. 

Motts v. M/V Green Wave
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 9, 2000

Death on the High Seas Act ("DOHSA"): DOHSA applies where the decedent is injured on the high seas, even if the defendant's negligence is entirely land-based and begins subsequent to that injury.

About the WWW Virtual Library  |  Disclaimer  |   Feedback
© Todd Kenyon. All rights reserved.