Justia Admiralty & Maritime Law Opinion Summaries
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
Orion Marine Construction, Inc. v. Dawson
Orion filed a limitation action under the Shipowner's Limitation of Liability Act. Claimants moved to dismiss the action, arguing that Orion had received adequate notice of the claims against it more than six months before it filed, that the action was therefore time-barred, and thus the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of claimants' motion to dismiss. The court held that the Act's section 30511(a)'s six-month filing deadline does not erect a jurisdictional barrier to suit. Rather, section 30211(a)'s six-month filing deadline is a non-jurisdictional claim process rule. The court also held that, in order to trigger the six-month filing period, a claimant (not someone else) must provide the shipowner or its agent (not someone else) with written (not oral) notice that reveals a reasonable possibility that his claim will exceed the value of the vessel(s) at issue. Furthermore, a shipowner does not incur a duty to investigate known or potential claims immediately upon receipt of a claimant's notice, and the duty to investigate arises only if the notice reveals the required "reasonable possibility." Finally, the court held that Orion did not receive the statutorily required written notice—revealing a reasonable possibility of claims that would exceed the value of its barges—more than six months before it filed its limitation action. Therefore, Orion's suit was timely filed. View "Orion Marine Construction, Inc. v. Dawson" on Justia Law
Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries
Manufacturers produced equipment for three Navy ships. The equipment required asbestos insulation or asbestos parts to function as intended, but the manufacturers did not always incorporate the asbestos into their products, so the Navy later added the asbestos. Two Navy veterans, exposed to asbestos on the ships, developed cancer. They sued the manufacturers. The manufacturers argued that they should not be liable for harms caused by later-added third-party parts. The Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit in rejecting summary judgment for the manufacturers. The Court adopted a rule between the “foreseeability” approach and the “bare-metal defense,” that is "especially appropriate in the context of maritime law, which has always recognized a ‘special solicitude for the welfare’ of sailors." Requiring a warning in these circumstances will not impose a significant burden on manufacturers, who already have a duty to warn of the dangers of their own products. A manufacturer must provide a warning only when it knows or has reason to know that the integrated product is likely to be dangerous for its intended uses and has no reason to believe that the product’s users will realize that danger. The rule applies only if the manufacturer directs that the part be incorporated; the manufacturer makes the product with a part that the manufacturer knows will require replacement with a similar part; or a product would be useless without the part. View "Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries" on Justia Law
Posted in: Admiralty & Maritime Law, Military Law, Personal Injury, Products Liability, US Supreme Court
Korman v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order dismissing plaintiff's complaint against Princess Cruise Lines. Plaintiff's action stemmed from injuries he suffered while he was a passenger on a cruise ship operated by Princess. The court held that the lack of a reporter's transcript did not require affirmances based on an inadequate record; although plaintiff's action was not filed "in a forum outside this state," the statutes governing forum non conveniens motions apply here to determine the enforceability of the forum selection clause; the forum selection clause in this case was mandatory and required that suit be brought in federal court; and the court rejected plaintiff's claims that the enforcement of the mandatory selection clause would be unreasonable. View "Korman v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd." on Justia Law
4-K Marine, LLC v. Enterprise Marine Services, LLC
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in this maritime case involving an allision, holding that the owner of the stationary, "innocent" vessel does not have to be reimbursed for the medical expenses of an employee who fraudulently claimed his preexisting injuries had resulted from the allision. In this case, because the employee's back condition did not result from the allision, Enterprise Marine did nothing that caused or contributed to a need for maintenance and cure for that particular medical problem. Therefore, Enterprise Marine did not owe reimbursement for the back surgery. Furthermore, Enterprise Marine did not have a contractual obligation to reimburse where an agreement between the parties did not cover a situation in which it later became clear that the employee's claims were fraudulent. View "4-K Marine, LLC v. Enterprise Marine Services, LLC" on Justia Law
Dimond Rigging Co. v. BDP International, Inc.
Dimond was hired by a Chinese manufacturer to “rig, dismantle, wash, and pack,” and ship used automotive assembly-line equipment to China. Dimond, which lacked experience in international shipment, hired BDP. Dimond asserted that BDP did not disclose that it was not a licensed Ocean Transport Intermediary by the Federal Maritime Commission. In May 2011, BDP informed Dimond that it had obtained a ship and sent a booking note to Dimond. Between May and October 2011, Dimond dismantled and weighed the equipment and prepared a “preliminary" packing list. BDP allegedly provided the preliminary packing list when it obtained quotes from third-party contractors to load the Equipment. In October 2011, BDP notified Dimond that the ship was no longer available. Dimond asserted that BDP “without Dimond’s knowledge, consent or approval” hired Logitrans to perform BDP’s freight forwarding duties. BDP and Logitrans hired a ship. As a result of many ensuing difficulties, Dimond became involved in multiple lawsuits, including suits with its Chinese customer and the stevedores. Dimond sued BDP in July 2013 but never served BDP with the complaint. When the summons expired, the district court dismissed without prejudice. In August 2017, Dimond filed a Motion to Amend and Praecipe for Issuance of Amended Summons for its 2013 suit. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion. The suit was not timely filed within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act. View "Dimond Rigging Co. v. BDP International, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Admiralty & Maritime Law, Commercial Law, Contracts, International Trade, US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
United States v. Maritime Life Caribbean Limited
In an ancillary third-party forfeiture proceeding where Maritime Life asserted that it was given a security interest in the forfeited property, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court committed harmless error in requiring Maritime Life to prove the authenticity of the collateral assignment that allegedly granted it a security interest in the forfeited property by a preponderance of the evidence. In this case, ample evidence supported the district court's finding on the ultimate question of authenticity and that finding controlled whether Maritime Life had an interest in the property. The court also held that, although the district court erred in permitting the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to intervene in the forfeiture proceeding even though it had no legal interest in the property, the intervention did not affect Maritime Life's substantial rights and did not require reversal. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Maritime Life Caribbean Limited" on Justia Law
Randle v. Crosby Tugs, LLC
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the vessel owner in an action alleging that the vessel owner breached its duties under the Jones Act to provide plaintiff with prompt and adequate medical care after he suffered a stroke while working aboard the vessel. The court held that plaintiff failed to show that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the vessel owner acted negligently by calling 911. Furthermore, there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether the vessel owner was vicariously liable for the Teche Regional Medical Center physicians' alleged malpractice. View "Randle v. Crosby Tugs, LLC" on Justia Law
Cruz v. National Steel and Shipbuilding Co.
The borrowed employee doctrine applies to employees under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. A maritime worker who has collected statutory workers' compensation for her injuries may not further recover against a borrowed employer. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for a general contractor in an admiralty action brought by an injured maritime worker. The panel held that the general contractor was immune from suit under the one recovery policy at the heart of the workers' compensation law. In this case, the maritime worker was the general contractor's borrowed employee where her work was subject to its direction and control at all times. Therefore, the maritime worker was barred from bringing tort claims against the general contractor. View "Cruz v. National Steel and Shipbuilding Co." on Justia Law
Clearlake Shipping PTE Ltd. v. NuStar Energy Services, Inc.
An interpleader defendant, NuStar, appealed the district court's partial final judgment rejecting its claims of entitlement to maritime liens against two chartered vessels. The district court ruled that NuStar was not entitled to maritime liens under the Commercial Instruments and Maritime Liens Act (CIMLA). The Second Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not err in interpreting the CIMLA or ruling that maritime liens may not properly be granted based on principles of equity. The court held that NuStar's contentions as to the proper interpretation of the CIMLA was foreclosed by the court's recent decision in ING Bank N.V. v. M/V TEMARA, 892 F.3d 511 (2d Cir. 2018). Furthermore, the district court did not err by concluding that the exception to the general rule against a subcontractor's entitlement to a maritime lien did not apply to NuStar. View "Clearlake Shipping PTE Ltd. v. NuStar Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law