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Joyce, a member of the Seafarers Union, agreed to serve as a bosun aboard the MAERSK OHIO for three months in 2012. The Union and Maersk had a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was incorporated by reference into the Agreement. Joyce fell ill onboard, was declared unfit for duty, and repatriated to the U.S. The CBA provided that, if a seafarer was medically discharged before the conclusion of his contract, he was entitled to unearned wages for the remaining contract period. Overtime was not included in the definition of unearned wages. Joyce received only base pay for the time left on his contract after his discharge. Joyce alleged that the CBA provisions governing unearned wages violated general maritime law. The district court granted Maersk summary judgment, distinguishing the Third Circuit’s 1990 “Barnes” holding that the specifics of what is covered by a seafarer’s right to “maintenance” (traditionally, food and lodging expenses) could be modified by a court, even if those specifics were established in a CBA. The Third Circuit affirmed, overruling the Barnes decision and joining other circuits, holding that a union contract freely entered by a seafarer that includes rates of maintenance, cure, and unearned wages will not be reviewed piecemeal by courts unless there is evidence of unfairness in the collective bargaining process. View "Joyce v. Maersk Line Ltd" on Justia Law

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The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards does not allow nonsignatories or non-parties to compel arbitration. The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) expressly exempted from its scope any contracts of employment of seamen. In this maritime action, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to compel arbitration arising from the death of a seaman in the sinking of a fishing vessel. Dongwon moved to compel arbitration based on an employment agreement between the seaman and the vessel's owner, Majestic. The panel held that Dongwon was neither a signatory nor a party to the employment agreement. The panel also held that Dongwan could not compel arbitration on grounds other than the Convention Treaty, such as the FAA. View "Yang v. Dongwon Industries, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The M/V Deep Blue purchased fuel from a supplier, the supplier purchased the fuel from an affiliate, and the affiliate subcontracted with Radcliff. Radcliff subsequently asserted a maritime lien on the Deep Blue in a bid to recover directly from the ship, giving rise to this litigation. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that Radcliff did not have a lien on the Deep Blue. Instead, a lien had arisen in favor of the global fuel supplier, and was duly assigned to ING Bank, an intervenor in the suit. View "Barcliff, LLC v. M/V Deep Blue" on Justia Law

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At 5:33 p.m. on April 18, 2013, a 14‐barge tow pushed by the M/V Dale Heller on the Illinois River was sucked into a powerful cross‐current and broke up. Some of the barges crashed (allided) into the Marseilles Dam; some sank; some were saved. The accident happened during record‐breaking rains and high water. A day later, the nearby town of Marseilles experienced significant flooding. Flood Claimants sued to recover for their flood damage. The district court ruled that the United States, which manages the Dam through its Army Corps of Engineers, was immune from suit for its role in the allision, and that the Corps was solely responsible for the accident. Flood Claimants appealed, arguing that the company that owns and operates the Dale Heller shared some of the blame because of its failure to follow inland navigation rules and its more general negligence. The Seventh Circuit affirmed; the facts found by the district court were not clearly erroneous, and those facts support the court’s assignment of sole responsibility to the Corps. Because of the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Corps cannot be sued for the actions of its lockmaster, however negligent or inexplicable they may have been. View "Alexander v. Ingram Barge Co." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of relief in an action brought by SCL Basilisk against Thorco for an order requiring the posting of a security by Agribusiness Savannah, Agribusiness United, Agribusiness United DMCC, and Sonada, in aid of a pending international arbitration in London, United Kingdom. The underlying petition arose out of a commercial dispute between the parties over the performance of a charter agreement. The court held that the relief sought by plaintiffs was not authorized by Rule B of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions, Georgia law, or principles of maritime law. View "SCL Basilisk AG v. Agribusiness United Savannah Logistics LLC" on Justia Law

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After a tugboat collided with an oil-filled barge and caused 300,000 gallons of oil to spill in the Mississippi River, the United States filed suit against ACL, the statutorily-defined responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), 33 U.S.C. 2704(a), seeking a declaration that ACL was liable for all removal costs and damages, and to recover costs that it incurred. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States and final judgment ordering ACL to pay the United States $20 million. The court held that ACL failed to establish that it was entitled to the third-party defense because the conduct that caused the spill occurred "in connection" with DRD's contractual relationship with ACL. The court also held, in the alternative, that ACL was not entitled to OPA's general limit on liability because DRD's conduct fell within the exception from limited liability for spills proximately caused by gross negligence, willful misconduct, or federal regulatory violations. View "United States v. American Commercial Lines, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit declined to extend the reach of a maritime lien claim to encompass a pre-established purchase cost of items rented by a charterer pursuant to a temporary rental and service contract and affirmed the judgment of the district court limiting the in rem maritime lien claim of Appellant on the arrested ship, the M/V NOVA STAR. Appellant’s claim arose from its agreement with the ship’s charterer to rent linens and other items for the ship’s ferry service. The district court refused to grant Appellant’s maritime lien claim in its entirety and entered judgment for Appellant in the amount of $16,187. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding (1) the court properly limited the maritime lien to the amount of $16,187; and (2) the court correctly concluded that the inventory remaining in Appellant’s warehouse in Westbrook, Maine was not “delivered” in a manner as to create a maritime lien for its replacement cost according to the default provision of the rental contract. View "Maine Uniform Rental, Inc. v. Nova Star M/V" on Justia Law

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After claimant was injured while inspecting a moored barge, he filed claims against the barge company as his employer, the owner of the barge, and the operator of the rock processing facility, under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30101‐30106, the Longshore and Harbor Workersʹ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. 901‐950, general maritime law, and New York state law. The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Jones Act claims because claimant did not qualify as a ʺseamanʺ within the meaning of the Jones Act. However, the court held that the district court erred in dismissing certain of claimant's remaining claims against the owner of the barge and the operator of the rock processing facility. In this case, the district court erred in dismissing the LHWCA claim against Franz to the extent it was based on the alleged breach of Franzʹs duty, as owner, to turn over a reasonably safe vessel; and the state law claims against Tilcon for negligence, gross negligence, and violation of N.Y. Labor Law 200. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re Complaint of Buchanan Marine, L.P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Wauquiez Boats, alleging claims for breach of maritime contract and for products liability under the general maritime law. The district court dismissed the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for failing adequately to demonstrate admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. However, plaintiff had filed an amended complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 roughly an hour before the district court filed its order dismissing the case. The Fourth Circuit reasoned that, because the amended complaint remained the operative complaint in the district court and was unaddressed by Wauquiez Boats or the court, the district court's order dismissing the original complaint and denying sanctions was not a final decision under 28 U.S.C. 1291. Accordingly, the court dismissed plaintiff's appeal and Wauquiez Boats' cross-appeal requesting sanctions, for lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Fawzy v. Wauquiez Boats SNC" on Justia Law

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Rubi, a U.S. citizen, is the Director of 7R Holdings LLC, which has its principal place of business in Puerto Rico. Holdings holds 7R Charters, which owned M/Y Olga, a yacht registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Calot captains Olga. Using email and the telephone, Calot, while in Puerto Rico, hired Trotter, while in Florida, to work as a chef on Olga. Trotter boarded Olga in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Days later, Olga traveled to Scrub Island, BVI, and let down its anchor. Trotter allegedly sustained an injury while descending stairs to the dock, was treated for her alleged injuries at a BVI hospital, and returned to Florida. Trotter sued Rubi, Holdings, and Olga in the District Court of the Virgin Islands under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104, and general maritime laws. The court dismissed, citing forum non conveniens. The Third Circuit affirmed, applying the general presumption that the possibility of a change in substantive law should ordinarily not be given substantial weight in the forum non-conveniens inquiry, because the remedy provided by the alternative forum is not clearly inadequate and because the Jones Act does not contain a special venue provision. The court did not abuse its discretion in exercising its forum non-conveniens power after reasonably balancing the relevant private and public interest factors. View "Trotter v. 7R Holdings LLC" on Justia Law