Justia Admiralty & Maritime Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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Punitive damages are awardable to seamen for their own injuries in general maritime unseaworthiness actions. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to strike a prayer for punitive damages. The panel held that Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19 (1990), did not implicitly overrule the holding of Evich v. Morris, 819 F.2d 256 (9th Cir. 1987). Under Miller v. Gammie, 335 F.3d 889 (9th Cir. 2003), Evich remains good law. Under Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, 557 U.S. 404 (2009), the panel reached the same conclusion Evich did, even if the panel were not bound by Evich. View "Batterton v. Dutra Group" on Justia Law

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Punitive damages are awardable to seamen for their own injuries in general maritime unseaworthiness actions. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to strike a prayer for punitive damages. The panel held that Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19 (1990), did not implicitly overrule the holding of Evich v. Morris, 819 F.2d 256 (9th Cir. 1987). Under Miller v. Gammie, 335 F.3d 889 (9th Cir. 2003), Evich remains good law. Under Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, 557 U.S. 404 (2009), the panel reached the same conclusion Evich did, even if the panel were not bound by Evich. View "Batterton v. Dutra Group" on Justia Law

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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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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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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