THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT AFFIRMED ITS’ PRIOR RULING IN HINES, WHICH PERMITS A SEAMAN TO RECOVER PUNITIVE DAMAGES WHEN AN EMPLOYER ARBITRARILY AND WILLFULLY REFUSES TO PAY MAINTENANCE AND CURE.
ATLANTIC SOUNDING CO., INC., WEEKS MARINE, INC., Plaintiffs-Counter-Defendants-Appellants, versus EDGAR L. TOWNSEND, Defendant-Counter-Claimant-Appellee, THOMAS KIMBROUGH, Defendant.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20078
August 23, 2007, Decided
In this interlocutory appeal, Plaintiffs-Appellants Atlantic Sounding Co., Inc., appeal the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ motion to strike Defendant-Appellee Edgar L. Townsend’s request for punitive damages.
The district court consolidated two actions: one based on a seaman’s alleged shoulder injury and the other based on the seaman’s employer’s suit for declaratory relief on the question of their obligations in this matter. The district court concluded that it was bound by the 11th Circuit’s prior panel decision in Hines v. J.A. LaPorte, Inc., 820 F.2d 1187 (11th Cir. 1987), which permits a seaman to recover punitive damages when an employer arbitrarily and willfully refuses to pay maintenance and cure. Plaintiffs contend that Hines was abrogated by Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19, 111 S. Ct. 317, 112 L. Ed. 2d 275 (1990), in which the Supreme Court concluded that recovery for non-pecuniary loss in the wrongful death of a seaman was not available under general maritime law. The 11th Circuit held that this argument could only be based on the reasoning of the Miles opinion, not on the Miles decision itself.
The Court concluded that their prior decision in Hines remains binding law in this Circuit.
MAGISTRATE CORRECTLY APPLIED SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD WITH THE ADDITIONAL FLEXIBILITY AFFORDED BY EXERCISING ADMIRALTY JURISDICTION AND GRANTED, IN PART, AN INJURED SEAMAN’S MOTION TO COMPEL THE TOWING COMPANIES TO ADJUST THE PAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE TO INCREASE THE COSTS FOR FOOD AND SHELTER HOUSING TO A REASONABLE RATE BASED ON ACTUAL RECEIPTS.
MICHAEL MILLER, Plaintiff, vs. SMITH MARITIME, LTD.; TOW BOAT SERVICES & MANAGEMENT, INC.; and HAWAIIAN INTERISLAND TOWING, INC., Defendants.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAII
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57549
August 6, 2007, Filed
A magistrate judge recommended that the court grant, in part, plaintiff seaman’s pretrial motion to compel defendant towing companies to adjust the payment of maintenance to the seaman.
The towing companies had a duty to provide the seaman, who was injured aboard a vessel, payment of maintenance and cure, but did not begin payments until 11 months after the accident and, thus, caused him to incur debt. The court held that the magistrate correctly applied the summary judgment standard with the additional flexibility that exercising admiralty jurisdiction allowed and treated the seaman’s motion to compel an adjustment in payment of maintenance as a motion for partial summary judgment within the context of admiralty law. The court affirmed the recommendation to grant the motion in part. The court held that the magistrate correctly applied the flexibility afforded by exercising admiralty jurisdiction, recommended that the seaman’s maintenance cost for food and housing in California be adjusted from $ 21 to the reasonable rate of $ 31 based on actual receipts, and found that the seaman’s housing, for which he did not pay rent, fell within the definition of shelter. The court adopted the recommendation to deny the motion in part because a significant disparity existed between the expert evidence as to the Honolulu, Hawaii, daily maintenance and required a trial.
The court adopted the finding and recommendation to grant the motion in part as to the California maintenance and deny it as to the Hawaii maintenance.
TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY FOUND AS A MATTER OF LAW THAT A MARITIME SERVICES CONTRACT EXISTED BETWEEN AN EMPLOYER AND A YACHT CLUB BECAUSE NO SHOWING WAS MADE THAT THE WATERFRONT IMPROVEMENT CONTRACT BORE ANY RELATION TO MARITIME COMMERCE OR TO A SHIP, NAVIGATION ON NAVIGABLE WATERS, OR TRANSPORTATION BY SEA.
James Mulhern, et al., plaintiffs, v Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, defendant third-party plaintiff-respondent; Costello Marine Contracting Corp., third-party defendant-appellant. (Index No. 6236/98)
SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE DIVISION, SECOND DEPARTMENT
2007 NY Slip Op 6420; 2007 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 9057
August 14, 2007, Decided
In an action by plaintiff employee, inter alia, to recover damages for personal injuries under New York Labor Law, third-party defendant employer sought review of a judgment entered by the Supreme Court, Queens County (New York), which was in favor of third-party plaintiff yacht club on its implied indemnification claim based on a theory that the employer had breached the warranty of workmanlike performance implied in maritime service contracts.
The employee was injured when he was struck by a load of timber being hoisted by a barge-mounted crane while he was clearing debris from a beach. The employer, at the time of the accident, had been hired by the yacht club to perform work on a waterfront renovation project, including construction of new piers. Besides the Labor Law claim against the yacht club, the employee brought an action against the employer based, among other things, upon a violation of the Jones Act, the actions were joined for trial. The trial court found as a matter of law that a maritime services contract existed with an implied warranty of workmanlike performance. On appeal, the court reversed, finding that the contract between the employer and the yacht club was improperly classified as one for maritime services. No showing was made that the waterfront improvement contract bore any relation to maritime commerce or to a ship, navigation on navigable waters, or transportation by sea. Therefore, the contract did not contain an implied warranty of workmanlike performance that could serve as the basis for implied contractual indemnification under maritime law.
The court reversed the trial court’s judgment, vacated the prior order on which the judgment was based, and dismissed the third-party complaint.
WHERE A TOWING COMPANY SOUGHT TO LIMIT ITS LIABILITY FROM A BOATING COLLISION PURSUANT TO 46 U.S.C.S. § 30505, THE DISTRICT COURT DID NOT ABUSE ITS DISCRETION IN LIFTING A STAY OF THE CLAIMANTS’ STATE COURT ACTIONS BECAUSE THE CLAIMANTS’ STIPULATIONS ADEQUATELY PROTECTED THE TOWING COMPANY’S RIGHT TO SEEK LIMITATION OF LIABILITY IN FEDERAL COURT.
IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT OF: ILLINOIS MARINE TOWING, INCORPORATED A CORPORATION, FOR EXONERATION FROM, OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT
2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 19746
August 20, 2007, Decided
Appellant, a marine towing company, sought review of a decision from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, which granted a motion to modify a stay and allowed appellees, injured parties who had filed claims against the towing company (claimants), to pursue their actions in state court.
This case involved personal injuries and a death that resulted from a drunken boating collision. The towing company owned a barge that was involved in the collision. After the injured parties filed lawsuits in state court, the towing company filed a petition in federal court to limit liability pursuant to the Limitation of Shipowners’ Liability Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30505, resulting in a stay of the state court proceedings. The claimants filed a motion to modify the stay, attaching stipulations which conceded the district court’s exclusive jurisdiction over all limitation of liability issues and waived any claim of res judicata. The district court found that these stipulations adequately protected the towing company’s interests and therefore granted the claimants’ motion, thereby permitting the state claims to proceed. On review, the court concluded that the claimants’ stipulations adequately protected the towing company’s right to seek limitation of liability and have all limitation issues decided in federal court. As such, the district court did not abuse its discretion in lifting the stay of the claimants’ state court actions.
The court affirmed the district court’s order granting the claimants’ motion to modify the stay.
A DISTRICT COURT’S DISMISSAL OF A MARINE COMPANY’S THIRD PARTY DEMAND WAS AFFIRMED SINCE A WORKER’S SUIT AGAINST THE MARINE COMPANY, ALLEGING VESSEL NEGLIGENCE UNDER 33 U.S.C.S. § 905(B) DID NOT TRIGGER 33 U.S.C.S. § 905(C) BECAUSE THE INDEMNITY AGREEMENT AT ISSUE WAS NOT BETWEEN THE MARINE COMPANY AND THE WORKER’S EMPLOYER.
JASON SMITH, Plaintiff, VERSUS SEACOR MARINE LLC; SEACOR OFFSHORE LLC, Defendants-Third Party Plaintiffs-Appellants, VERSUS AMEC-GREYSTAR LLC, Third Party Defendant-Appellee,
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 18332
August 1, 2007, Filed
Appellant offshore marine support company sought judicial review of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana’s dismissal of its third party complaint seeking contractual indemnity for sums it may owe to a worker injured in an oilfield accident which occurred on the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of Louisiana. The worker had received benefits under Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act.
Alleging vessel negligence under 33 U.S.C.S. § 905(b), the worker filed the present admiralty action against the marine company, he did not sue the oil company or his employer. The marine company agreed that the worker’s employer’s contract with the oil company to furnish labor services to work aboard the oil company’s platform on the Outer Continental Shelf was a non-maritime contract governed by Louisiana law. Nevertheless, it argued that it was entitled to enforce the indemnity provision in the oil company/employer contract because the employee’s suit against it under § 905(b) triggered the application of 33 U.S.C.S. § 905(c) and Louisiana law did not apply. The worker’s action against the marine company under 33 U.S.C.S. § 905(b) did not trigger the application of 33 U.S.C.S. § 905(c) since the indemnity agreement at issue was not between the employer and the marine company, it was between the employer and the oil company. Since Louisiana law, including the Louisiana Oilfield Indemnity Act, applied to the oil company/employer contract, the district court correctly dismissed the marine company’s third party demand.
The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
TUGBOAT OWNER WAS PROPERLY EXONERATED UNDER THE FORMER LIMITATION OF SHIPOWNER’S LIABILITY ACT FROM LIABILITY ARISING FROM A COLLISION BETWEEN THE TUG AND A SHIP; THE RECORD SUPPORTED A FINDING THAT THE PILOTING OF THE TUG WAS NOT NEGLIGENT AND THAT THE SHIP WAS NEGLIGENTLY OPERATED.
IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT OF MORAN TOWING CORPORATION, AS OWNER OF THE TUG JOHN TURECAMO, FOR EXONERATION OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY; JOMAR SHIPPING & TRADING, INC. & KRISTEN NAVIGATION, INC., Appellants.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 18686
August 7, 2007, Filed
Appellee tugboat owner sued appellants, a shipowner and the ship’s manager, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under the former Limitation of Shipowners Liability Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 183 et seq. (repealed 2006). The district court exonerated the tugboat owner from liability in connection with a collision. Appellants sought review.
Appellants claimed that the tugboat owner was liable for damages arising from a collision between a ship and a tugboat. The collision occurred while a docking pilot was attempting to slow the ship to execute docking maneuvers; the tugboat took emergency corrective action and collided with the ship’s propellers. The court of appeals found that the record supported the district court’s finding that the docking pilot was an independent contractor who was subject to the control of the ship’s master and not the tugboat owner at the time of the collision. Also, the district court’s finding that the piloting of the tugboat was not negligent was not clearly erroneous; sheer on the part of the ship indicated that the operation of the ship and not the tugboat was negligent. An expert testified that the docking pilot improperly pre-positioned the tugboat and should have ordered the tug to clear away once he realized that the ship was traveling too fast.
The district court’s judgment was affirmed.