Justia Admiralty & Maritime Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
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Plaintiff, a citizen of the Philippines, brought suit against defendants for damages arising from severe injuries he sustained aboard the M/V Asian Spirit in the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore. Plaintiff's complaint alleged multiple clams against defendants, including unseaworthiness, maintenance and cure, breach of contract, violation of the Seaman's Wage Act, 46 U.S.C. 10313(i), and negligence under general maritime law and the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104. The court affirmed the district court's judgment that the Arbitration Clause at issue was enforceable and that plaintiff must arbitrate his claims against defendants in the Philippines. Nevertheless, the court vacated the dismissal of the case and remanded for reinstatement thereof, for assessment of the injunction request, for entry of a stay pending arbitration to ensure that plaintiff would have an opportunity at the award-enforcement stage for judicial review of his public policy defense based on the prospective waiver doctrine, and for such other and further proceedings. View "Aggarao, Jr. v. Mol Ship Mgmt. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's enforcement of the arbitration agreement in his employment contract with defendant. Plaintiff sued defendant on a single count of Jones Act negligence, pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 30104, claiming that defendant breached its duty to supply him with a safe place to work. The court held that, given the United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) and governing Supreme Court and Circuit Court precedent, the court must enforce the arbitration clause in plaintiff's employment contract, at least at this initial arbitration-enforcement stage. Therefore, after review and oral argument, the court affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration of plaintiff's Jones Act negligence claim.View "Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas), LTD" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, seeking indemnity and/or contribution based on the damage defendant allegedly caused through gross negligence in removing plaintiff's vessel from a coral reef. At issue was whether the district court properly denied defendant's motion to compel arbitration of the dispute under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., where defendant alleged that the district court erred in refusing to apply English arbitrability law. The court held that based on the Supreme Court's reasoning in First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, courts should apply non-federal arbitrability law only if there was clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties intended to apply such non-federal law. Because there was no clear and unmistakable evidence in this case, federal arbitrability law applied. Under federal arbitrability law, the court's decisions in Mediterranean Enterprises, Inc. v. Ssangyong Construction Co. and Tracer Research Corp. v. National Environmental Services, Co., mandated a narrow interpretation of a clause providing for arbitration of all disputes "arising under" an agreement. Under this narrow interpretation, the present dispute was not arbitrable. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment.View "Cape Flattery Ltd. v. Titan Maritime, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from an order of the district court vacating the attachment, pursuant to Rule B of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of a check issued by the district court clerk made payable to defendant. At issue was whether the validity of a Rule B attachment of a treasury check issued from the Southern District's Court Registry Investment System (CRIS), representing the proceeds of electronic funds transfers whose attachment was vacated under Shipping Corp. of India Ltd. v. Jaldhi Overseas Pte Ltd. The court held that the jurisdictional defect that led to the vacatur under Jaldhi likewise precluded the attachment of the same funds in the CRIS. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "India Steamship Co. Ltd. v. Kobil Petroleum Ltd." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from plaintiff's allegations that, while she was employed with defendant on one of its cruise ships, she was drugged by other employees, raped, and physically injured while she was unconscious, and when she reported to officials of the cruise line what had happened to her, they treated her with indifference and even hostility, failed to provide her with proper medical treatment on board, and interfered with her attempts to obtain medical treatment and counseling ashore. Plaintiff subsequently asserted five claims against defendant involving violations of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104, or the general maritime law applicable to the Seaman's Wage Act, 46 U.S.C. 10313. Plaintiff's remaining five claims involved common law tort claims. At issue was whether plaintiff's claims fell within the scope of the arbitration clause in the crew agreement. The court held that the district court did not err in holding that Counts VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X of plaintiff's complaint did not fall within the scope of the arbitration provision where all five of these claims involved factual allegations about how the cruise line and its officials treated plaintiff after learning that she had been raped, including allegations that she was kept on the ship against her will, that she was prevented from getting medical attention off the ship, that her rape kit was destroyed in the incinerator, and that her confidentiality as a rape victim was intentionally violated. The court held, however, that the remaining five counts arose directly from her undisputed status as a "seaman" employed by defendant and fell within the scope of the arbitration provision. Therefore, the district court erred in denying defendant's motion to compel arbitration for Counts I, II, III, IV, and V. View "Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd." on Justia Law