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An arbitration provision in a maritime insurance policy is enforceable despite law in the forum state assertedly precluding its application. This case concerned the scope of insurance coverage Galilea bought for its yacht. The Ninth Circuit held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1-16, applied to the insurance policy but not the insurance application. In this case, the insurance application was not a contract, but the insurance policy was a contract subject to the FAA because the FAA constituted established federal maritime law for maritime transactions; federal maritime law was not precluded by Montana law under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. 1012; and federal maritime law was not precluded by Montana law under M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1 (1972). The panel also held that the parties have delegated arbitrability issues to an arbitrator. Therefore, the panel affirmed the district court's order finding the policy's arbitration clause enforceable and affirmed the district court's order granting the Underwriters' motion to compel arbitration as to certain causes of action. The panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Galilea, LLC v. AGCS Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the application and operation of Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the First Circuit held that the exclusionary remedy limned in Article 31(d) applies to evidence offered in a trial by court-martial but not in a non-judicial punishment proceeding. Petitioner, a petty officer in the United States Navy, received a non-judicial punishment, rescission of his recommendation for promotion, and an adverse employment evaluation. Petitioner appealed, alleging, inter alia, that his waiver of Article 31 rights was involuntary. The Board of Correction of Naval Records upheld the adverse employment consequences. Petitioner sought judicial review. The district court refused to set aside the Board’s decision. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the Board’s determination of voluntariness and its approval of the adverse employment consequences were in accordance with law. View "Sasen v. Spencer" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit considered this case en banc to modify the criteria set forth in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp. for determining whether a contract for performance of specialty services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil or gas on navigable waters was maritime. The court adopted a simpler, more straightforward test consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Kirby for making this determination. The court adopted a two-prong test to determine whether a contract in this context was maritime: First, was the contract one to provide services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil and gas on navigable waters? Second, if the answer to the above question was "yes," did the contract provide or do the parties expect that a vessel will play a substantial role in the completion of the contract? Applying the new test to this case, the court held that the contract was nonmaritime and controlled by Louisiana law, which barred indemnity. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for LDI and granted summary judgment for STS. View "Larry Doiron, Inc. v. Specialty Rental Tools & Supply" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant in a third party contribution and indemnification action regarding fire damage to a tugboat. In McDermott, Inc. v. AmClyde, 511 U.S. 202 (1994), the Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether non-settling defendants in admiralty cases may seek contribution from a settling defendant. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling because Corvus settled with Foss and no fact-finder made a determination of fault, Foss explicitly released all claims against Corvus related to AKA's wrongdoing, and allowing Corvus’s indemnity action would dissuade settlement, contrary to the Supreme Court's rationale in AmClyde. View "Corvus Energy Ltd. v. 1169997 Ontario, Ltd." on Justia Law

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After a longshoreman stepped through a hole in a decommissioned oil platform and fell 50 feet to his death, his spouse filed a negligence action against Manson. The platform sat atop a barge chartered by Manson, who ordered the hole's creation but did not cover the hole or warn of its existence. The district court granted summary judgment for Manson, finding no liability under any of the three Scindia duties: a turnover duty, a duty to exercise reasonable care in the areas of the ship under the active control of the vessel, and a duty to intervene. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment with respect to the duty to warn of hidden dangers. In this case, there was conflicting evidence regarding whether the hole was a hidden hazard, one a stevedore would not anticipate. Finally, the court held that this case fell outside the narrow caveat in West v. United States, 361 U.S. 118, 119 (1959). Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Manson Gulf, LLC v. Modern American Recycling Service, Inc." on Justia Law

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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