HomeCircuit Court Admiralty CasesChoice of Law
Choice of Law

The following are digests and case links to Circuit Court Admiralty Cases that have as an issue choice of law:

Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Co.
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
June 23, 2000

Admiralty Jurisdiction: the court had admiralty jurisdiction over a collision between a jet ski and an anchored vessel in Puerto Rican territorial waters, thus federal choice of law principles apply; Choice of Law: application of those principles results in the choice of Pennsylvania law to determine compensatory damages and Puerto Rican law to determine punitive damages;  federal maritime law principles, however, apply in determining the liability of the defendant in this admiralty action for the death of a non-seaman brought pursuant to a state wrongful death/survival statute. 

Karim v. Finch Shipping
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 5, 2001

Procedure (Jurisdiction)/Limitation of Liability: the shipowner waived its jurisdictional defense where it voluntarily provided the district court in rem jurisdiction by commencing the limitation proceeding and placing the res, or the bond, in the hands of the court, and where it invoked the powers of the court to require the plaintiff seaman to halt his proceeding in another forum and to file in the limitation action; Procedure (Forum Non Conveniens): the relevant private and public interest factors under Gulf Oil/Piper Aircraft, such as Plaintiff receiving medical treatment in the United States, evidence and testimony being easily accessible in this forum, counsel for both parties being based in this forum, and the fact that United States limitation law applied, weighed against dismissal; Choice of Law: the district court did not err in making a determination of quantum of personal injury damages under Bangladeshi law by applying English and Indian precedent since experts informed the court that Bangladeshi courts would look to Indian and British cases for guidance where their precedents were lacking; Damages (Prejudgment Interest): the award of prejudgment interest is discretionary (both under Bangladeshi and United States law) and the district court did not abuse its discretion in setting the initial date of the interest accrual to be the date the limitation action was reactivated in federal court, rather than the date of injury. 

Solano v. Gulf King 55
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 5, 2000

Choice of Law: Nicaraguan law applies to plaintiffs' personal injury claims where: (1) the claims arose on shrimping vessels operated exclusively in the territorial waters of Nicaragua, (2) the plaintiffs were all Nicaraguan citizens and residents, and (3) the employment contracts were entered into in Nicaragua; the law of the flag and the national allegiance of the defendants Lauritzen-Rhoditis factors, which supported application of American law, would be discounted in this case where the shrimping vessels  operated exclusively in NIcaraguan waters and were more analogous to fixed drilling platforms than vessels in traditional maritime commerce.

HIH Marine Services, Inc. v. Fraser
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
May 19, 2000

Marine Insurance: under the doctrine of uberrimae fidei, a material misrepresentation on an application for marine insurance is grounds for voiding the policy; the insured's misrepresentation that the insured yacht was in its custody pursuant to a charter party was considered material since it might have had a bearing on the risk to be assumed by the insurer, thus the policy was void and the insurer had no obligation to pay a total loss claim; Choice of Law: American and Jamaican law on this marine insurance issue are largely congruent, thus the District Court's decision to apply American law will not be addressed.

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