Justia Admiralty & Maritime Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
United States v. Kenneth McKee
17 people were killed a commercial tourism duck boat operating on Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks, sank during a storm. The government charged the captain and the managers of the duck boat company, with felony counts of “seaman’s manslaughter” under 18 U.S.C. Section 1115 and misdemeanor counts of operating a vessel in a grossly negligent manner. The government alleged that the charged offenses occurred on “Table Rock Lake, a navigable water of the United States within the Western District of Missouri and within the admiralty jurisdiction of the United States.” The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, adopting a report and recommendation that concluded the prescriptive reaches of Sections 1115 and 2302(b) is defined by admiralty law and do not cover the alleged conduct. The government appealed the dismissal. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that a review of the statute’s history leads to the conclusion that the origins of seaman’s manslaughter are in the admiralty jurisdiction of federal courts. Here, the government objected to the district court’s reliance on Edwards as binding precedent regarding the status of Table Rock Lake and argued that the evidence of commercial activity on Table Rock Lake presented, in this case, established that the lake is navigable in fact. However, before deferring to Edwards, the district court reviewed all of the evidence submitted by the parties and found that the nature and frequency of commercial shipping on the lake had not substantially changed since the Edwards decision. Thus, the court wrote that it detects no clear error in the district court’s finding or conclusion. View "United States v. Kenneth McKee" on Justia Law
United States v. Love
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for assault resulting in serious bodily injury at a place within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Defendant was serving a sentence at the U. S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri when he entered the room of another inmate and attacked him, causing severe injuries, emergency intubation, and facial reconstruction surgery.The court held that a district court may take judicial notice that a place is within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States and not submit that issue to the jury, without violating a defendant's Sixth Amendment rights. Consequently, the court need not address whether the evidence at trial was sufficient for a jury to find that the Center is within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. View "United States v. Love" on Justia Law
Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railway, Corp. v. Ingram Barge Co.
The owner of a lawful bridge may be found comparatively negligent for an allision even absent an affirmative legal duty to alter the bridge's configuration. DM&E filed suit against Ingram for damages stemming from a barge accident. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment for DM&E for the full amount sought, and held that the district court erred by concluding that DM&E could not be assigned any share of fault because it had no legal duty to remove or alter the lawfully permitted bridge. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to determine whether DM&E was in fact comparatively negligent. View "Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railway, Corp. v. Ingram Barge Co." on Justia Law