HomeCircuit Court Admiralty Cases2000 (January-April)
The following are links to selected Circuit Court opinions concerning admiralty and maritime law issued during the period January-April, 2000.

Bank of Scotland v. Hector Sabay
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 28, 2000

Maritime Liens: a seaman's preferred maritime lien for penalty wages is not enforceable against the proceeds of a vessel sale when those proceeds are less than the preferred mortgage debt.

Venus Lines v. CVG Industria Venezolania de Aluminio, C.A.
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
April 25, 2000

Foreign Sovereign Immunity:  the foreign sovereign shipper had explicitly waived its immunity from prejudgment attachment in the governing contract of affreightment, thus the carrier was entitled to attach for security purposes the sovereign's cargo as long as that cargo was used for "commercial activity in the United States."

In re Limitation Complaint of John E. Graham & Sons
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 18, 2000 (Revised April 25, 2000)

Indemnity: Texas law applies to this action arising from personal injuries suffered on an offshore platform, thus the Texas Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act applies, which invalidates the contractual obligation of the contractor to indemnify the platform owner for personal injury damages paid to the contractor's employees.

Snyder Oil v. Samedan Oil Co.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 13, 2000

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ("OCSLA"): in determining whether an offshore area was "adjacent" to Alabama under the OCSLA, the court considered geographic proximity, federal agency action, prior court determinations and projected  boundaries; the Court affirmed the District Court's finding that the offshore area was adjacent to Alabama, thus Alabama law is considered the law of the United States in the area and will govern in deciding a dispute between the parties under a joint operating agreement for development of a federal oil and gas lease in the offshore area. 

Garris v. Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 3, 2000

Wrongful Death: the principles of Moragne, which recognized a general maritime cause of action for wrongful death based on unseaworthiness, also support recognizing a maritime wrongful death claim based on negligence, thus the District Court's decision dismissing the plaintiff's negligence-based claim is reversed.

In re Aircrash off Long Island (TWA 800)
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
March 29, 2000

Death on the High Seas Act ("DOHSA"): DOHSA does not apply to federal territorial waters, thus air crash eight miles off Long Island and within the twelve mile territorial sea is not covered by DOHSA.

Krummel v. Bombardier Co.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 27, 2000

Products Liability: since no evidence was presented that shed light on whether defendant should have foreseen - either by a pattern of similar accidents or a design defect - the probability and risk of the injury suffered by plaintiff, defendant did not have a duty to warn under the Third Restatement of Products Liability § 2(c).

Pool Company v. DOWCP
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 23, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: a claimant seeking compensation for the loss of use of a scheduled member resulting from an injury to an unscheduled body part may recover only under §908(c)(21), which applies to injuries not included within the scheduled injuries list.

Central State Transit & Leasing Yard Co. v. Jones Boat Yard, Inc.
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
March 20, 2000

Damages: a pleasure boat owner is entitled to receive loss of use damages only if able to prove, with reasonable certainty, that profits had actually been, or may reasonably be supposed to have been, lost, which owner in this case was unable to do; the District Court was correct to limit the liability of the defendant to its proportionate share under McDermott even though its liability was based in contract, not tort.

In re the EXXON VALDEZ, Sea Hawk v. Alyeska
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 16, 2000

Jury Trials: the District Court's factual finding that a juror was not truthful in alleging that the court's bailiff and other jurors had threatened her during jury deliberations was not clearly erroneous; the threat that the bailiff had indeed made ("you know, you guys, you're really having problems with her, or something like that, pulled his gun out, took a bullet out and said maybe if you put her out of her misery or something") was meant as a joke and in any event was not communicated to the threatened juror, thus a new punitive damages trail was not warranted. 

American River Trans Co. v. Kavo Kaliakra S.S.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 8, 2000

Damages: the Robins Dry Dock rule bars recovery for economic damages in negligence unconnected to an injury to a property interest, thus Longshore employer has no claim against tort-feasor for increased insurance costs associated with compensation payments to its injured employees. 

Frederick v. Kirby Tankships
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
March 8, 2000

Jury Trials/Maintenance & Cure: the jury award for maintenance, cure and unearned wages exceeded the maximum possible award based on the evidence, thus the excess must be remitted. 

Chisholm v. UHP Products, Inc.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 8, 2000

Damages: the Supreme Court's decision in McDermott is held not applicable in situations where the liable parties are not joint tort-feasors, thus the injured plaintiff is not entitled to jury verdict of $90,000 against one liable party since he had previously settled his claim against another liable party for an amount greater than the jury verdict.

Yukon Recovery v. Ocean Mar, Inc.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 7, 2000

Salvage: the subrogated underwriter of gold cargo lost in 1901 had not abandoned the cargo; the District Court properly granted priority to salvor Ocean Mar by virtue of its equitable claim as first finder and its salvage contract with the subrogated underwriter.

Ingalls Shipbuilding v. Wooley
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 2, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: the claimant's vacation pay was correctly included in determining the average daily wage for compensation purposes. 

Romain v. Industrial Fabrication
Fifth Circuit Circuit Court of Appeals
February 22, 2000

Jones Act: an offshore oil worker was not a Jones Act seaman since he did not work aboard an identifiable fleet of vessels.

Henry v. Coordinated Caribbean Transport
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
February 18, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: an agreed settlement between the parties that has not been approved by the District Director under 33 U.S.C. 908(i) is unenforceable.

Columbus-America Disc. v Atlantic Mutual Ins.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
February 8, 2000

Settlement Agreements: the settlement agreement concerning the division of salved treasure is enforceable, with the underwriters having no claim to any future salvage from the S.S. Central America; Procedure: court records of the inventory of the treasure remaining in the hands of the salvors may be sealed.

Folger Coffee Co. v. Olivebank
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
February 3, 2000

General Average: the vessel was seaworthy under COGSA at the commencement of the voyage, thus cargo interests had no defense to vessel's general average claim; Seaworthiness: open skylight and vent covers allowing entry of sea water that caused the emergency electrical system to fail constituted an error in management of the ship, not unseaworthiness.

Jackson v. North Bank Towing Co.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 31, 2000

Jones Act: the plain meaning of 46 U.S.C. 688 does not bar a foreign seaman from bringing maritime claims pursuant to foreign law in US courts. (subsequently vactaed on other grounds)

Marine Power v. DOL
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 31, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: an employer is not eligible for second-injury relief under 33 U.S.C. 908(f) because the employee's current disability is not substantially and materially greater as a result of the pre-existing condition.

Taylor v. Director OWCP
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 28, 2000

Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act: the claimant's spouse was not a "person entitled to compensation" when she entered into settlement agreements with third parties, thus her husband's employer was not entitled to an offset for the settlement amount.

Transamer Leasing v. La Republica de Venezuela
District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals
January 21, 2000

Foreign Sovereign Immunity: the Venezuelan government is immune from suit for the contract breaches of a defunct state owned shipping company since it did not exercise the requisite control over the company. 

Armit v. Eleni Intl Shipping
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 21, 2000

Charter Parties: the agent of the vessel's time charterer had no actual or apparent authority to bind the vessel's owner or operator/manager to a dock tariff. 

I & M Rail Link v. Northstar Navigation
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
January 5, 2000

Collisions/Casualties: the presumption of vessel fault when a vessel hits a stationary object may be overcome by a Coast Guard report that the struck bridge was an unreasonable obstruction to navigation. 

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