WHERE SEAMAN STIPULATES THAT STATE ACTION WON’T EXCEED VALUE OF VESSEL AND THAT RES JUDICATA WAIVED, TRIAL COURT HAD DISCRETION TO DISSOLVE INJUNCTION AND ALLOW STATE COURT ACTION TO PROCEED EVEN THOUGH SEAMAN DID NOT ASK FOR JURY TRIAL IN STATE COURT
JAMES F. LEWIS, PETITIONER v. LEWIS & CLARK MARINE, INC.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
2001 U.S. LEXIS 1698; 69 U.S.L.W. 4129; 2001 Daily Journal 1877
November 29, 2000, Argued
February 21, 2001, Decided
The lower court concluded that the trial court erred in dissolving the injunction on the grounds that respondent had a right to contest liability in federal court and that petitioner did not have a saved remedy in state court. The lower court erred in reversing the decision, however, because the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, 46 U.S.C.S. App. ß 181 et seq., allowed vessel owners to limit their liability to the value of the vessel only in cases where limitation of liability was an issue. Since petitioner had stipulated that his claim would not have exceeded the value of the vessel and had waived any res judicata claim arising from the state court action, the trial court was well within its discretion to dissolve the injunction based on its conclusion that respondent’s right to seek limitation was protected. Petitioner had sought a saved remedy in state court because the savings to suitors clause, 28 U.S.C.S. ß 1333(1), reserved all remedies available to petitioner, not just the right to receive a jury trial. Thus, petitioner’s failure to demand a jury trial in state court did not render his personal injury action a matter of exclusive federal jurisdiction.
Judgment was reversed and the case was remanded because the trial court was well within its discretion in determining that respondent’s right to seek liability limitation was protected and petitioner’s failure to demand a jury trial in state court did not render his personal injury action a matter of exclusive federal jurisdiction.
MAINTENANCE INCLUDES FULL AMOUNT OF SEAMAN’S MORTGAGE WITHOUT PRORATION WITH OTHER FAMILLY MEMBERS
JAMES HALL, Plaintiff-Appellee, versus NOBLE DRILLING (U.S.)INC.; NOBLE DRILLING SERVICES, INC., Defendants-Appellants. CHARLES BYRONSTUART, Plaintiff-Appellee, versus NOBLE DRILLING (U.S.) INC.; NOBLE DRILLINGSERVICES, INC., Defendants-Appellants.
No. 00-60063, 00-60065
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 2149
February 14, 2001, Decided
Plaintiff alleged that they were entitled to daily maintenance for the cost of food and lodging during the period of recovery after their injuries. Defendants acknowledged plaintiffs’ entitlement to maintenance, but argued that the maintenance rate awarded improperly considered the full amount of plaintiffs’ home mortgage costs, rather than prorating such costs between plaintiffs and their family members. The court held that, while maintenance was admittedly provided solely for the benefit of plaintiffs rather than their families, no proration was required to determine the proper maintenance rate. Plaintiffs actually paid, and were obligated to pay, the entire amounts of their mortgages, and such amounts represented plaintiffs’ actual costs of lodging. Such actual costs provided a proper basis for comparison with reasonable costs for single seamen in their localities. The maintenance awards to plaintiffs were thus reasonably calculated based on consideration of plaintiffs’ non-prorated lodging costs.
Order awarding maintenance was affirmed. Plaintiffs’ evidence of their actual food and lodging expenses properly included the full amount of plaintiffs’ mortgage expenses, since plaintiffs actually paid the entire amount. Thus the court’s consideration of such evidence in determining reasonable maintenance was proper.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AGAINST WATER TAXI SERVICE GRANTED WHERE STATUTORY VIOLATION OF NAVIGATION LAW STATUTE
NANCY LEE SMITH, JOSHUA OSBORNE, JONATHAN OSBORNE, THOMASOSBORNE, KEVIN McGINN, ERIN McGINN, CONNOR McGINN, REBECCA McGINN, DAWN HACKETT,JOSEPH PECORARO, LINDA PECORARO and MICHAEL HUREWITZ, Plaintiffs, – against -JOSEPH MITLOF, et al., Defendants.
99 Civ. 10833 (WCC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OFNEW YORK
2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1874
February 16, 2001, Decided
Mitlof operated a charter and water taxi service on the Hudson River serving Tarrytown, Nyack and Pierpont, New York. On August 23, 1998, Mitlof’s pontoon boat Conservator left Nyack allegedly carrying twenty-seven passengers – though Mitlof claims there were only twenty-five – and two crewmen, including the boat’s master, Sheehan, and capsized north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. All persons on board were sent into the water, and one passenger was trapped and drowned.
The Maritime Center at Norwalk (“Norwalk Maritime”), Conservator’s prior owner, [*4] had the boat certified by the United States Coast Guard (“USCG”) to operate out of Norwalk, Connecticut and carry a maximum of twenty-one persons. Mitlof purchased Conservator from Norwalk Maritime in June 1998. Plaintiffs allege that Mitlof failed to obtain a new USCG certificate of inspection (“COI”) after purchasing Conservator, and that he operated the boat without a valid COI, or, alternatively, that if there was a valid COI in effect, he violated its provisions. Mitlof claims that he received verbal assurance from the USCG that he would not need to have the vessel re-inspected and re-certified, but he never sought or secured this assurance in writing. The USCG investigated the accident, conducted a formal hearing on August 26 and 28, 1998, and issued two marine casualty reports. Mitlof and Sheehan invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify at the hearing.
Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. Civ. P. 56. They invoke the Pennsylvania Rule, see The Pennsylvania, 86 U.S. (19 Wall.) 125, 22 L. Ed. 148 (1874), arguing that because Mitlof violated a navigation law statute, [*5] he bears the burden of proving not only that his violation did not cause or contribute to the casualty, but that his violation could not have caused or contributed to the casualty. See id. at 136. Mitlof, appearing pro se, contends that Conservator in fact possessed a valid COI on August 23, 1998. Alternatively, he argues that Sheehan was an independent contractor who violated Hudson Valley Waterways’s company policies by overloading Conservator, and that because Mitlof was not in physical control of the boat when Sheehan did this, Sheehan’s actions release him from liability. Plaintiffs counter that Mitlof is liable for Sheehan’s actions under respondeat superior. For the reasons stated hereinafter, plaintiffs’ motion is granted.
IN SEAMAN’S CLAIM BURDENON DEFENDANT TO PROVE PROPER PRODUCTION OF VIDEOTAPE DURING DISCOVERY WHERE PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT DISAGREE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE VIDEOTAPE WAS PRODUCED
JASON FORTENBERRY VERSUS ATWOOD OCEANICS, INC.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 00-528 SECTION “N”
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OFLOUISIANA
2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1800
February 9, 2001, Decided
February 9, 2001, Filed; February 12, 2001, Entered
The Court agrees with Atwood that these tapes constitute substantive evidence of Fortenberry’s claims and, therefore, are relevant. See Chiasson. The Court has absolutely no way, however, to evaluate whether these tapes were produced in discovery. The Plaintiff says they were not, the Defendant says they were. Since Fortenberry knows about the tapes, the Court assumes that they were produced at some point, but, as the party seeking to introduce the tapes into evidence, Atwood bears the burden of establishing their admissibility. Atwood, therefore, should be prepared to prove to the Court that the tapes were produced.
SHIPOWNER’S COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY DECREE AS TO MAINTENANCE AND CURE IN FEDERAL COURT PROPERLY BROUGHT IN STATE WHERE SEAMAN RESIDED AND SUBSEQUENT STATE COURT ACTION FILED BY SEAMAN IN STATE COURT WHICH INCLUDED MAINTENANCE AND CURE CLAIM ENJOINED FROM PROCEEDING
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. HERMAN MARTIN,Defendant.
CIVIL ACTION No. 00-CV-303
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OFPENNSYLVANIA
2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1223
Defendant was a merchant seaman employed aboard a United States vessel operated by an agent of plaintiff United States. He allegedly injured his back while working. A Navy physician diagnosed a lumbar sacral sprain. He was discharged and sent home. He later sued the agent in federal court in Texas under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. ß 688 (1994). That suit was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and improper venue, as defendant lived in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff then filed for declaratory judgment in federal court in Pennsylvania, seeking a declaration that it owed no more maintenance and cure payments to defendant. Defendant was served at home in Pennsylvania. A month later he sued plaintiff in Texas under the Jones Act, claiming Texas was his home. He then moved to dismiss or to transfer venue from Pennsylvania. His motion was denied. Venue was proper in the district where the plaintiff resided. Defendant was the de facto plaintiff in the underlying controversy and lived in Pennsylvania when plaintiff’s case was filed and he was served. As both cases sought to define his entitlement to maintenance and cure, he was enjoined from pursuing the Texas action.
Defendant’s motion was denied and defendant was enjoined from litigating the issue of maintenance and cure in another jurisdiction, as defendant was the de facto plaintiff in the underlying controversy and venue was proper in Pennsylvania.
FORUM SELECTION CLAUSE IN CRUISE LINE TICKET ENFORCED AND COMPLAINT DISMISSED.
WESLEY H. ENDERSON and LINDA ENDERSON, Plaintiffs, vs.CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES, INC., and CARNIVAL CORPORATION, Defendants.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OFNORTH CAROLINA, STATESVILLE DIVISION
2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1608
February 7, 2001, Decided
Plaintiffs contracted with defendants for a seven-day cruise. During the cruise, one plaintiffs developed appendicitis and had to undergo emergency surgery at a land-based hospital. Plaintiffs sued for negligence and breach of contract for defendants’ failure to provide adequate medical facilities and treatment on ship and to promptly transport the plaintiff to a hospital. Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. The motion was granted on the grounds of improper forum. Because of this, the court did not address the issue of personal jurisdiction. The contract between plaintiffs and defendants contained a forum selection clause. Plaintiffs were given notice of this clause in at least four ways. The court found that the forum selection clause was valid, enforceable, and fundamentally fair because cruise lines have special interests in 1) limiting the fora in which they may be subject to suit, 2) dispelling confusion, and 3) reducing fares.
The motion to dismiss was granted. The contract between plaintiffs and defendants contained a valid and enforceable forum selection clause which required that any litigation be heard in a different forum.