Appeal of Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions C and D claims was dismissed on collateral estoppel grounds. Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions B quasi-contract claims were remanded as absence of admiralty jurisdiction over Rule C and D claims did not mean jurisdiction was lacking over quasi-contract claims.
BARNA CONSHIPPING, S.L., Plaintiff – Appellant, v. 2,000 METRIC TONS, MORE OR LESS, OF ABANDONED STEEL, in rem; COMMERCIAL METALS COMPANY, d/b/a CMC Dallas Trading, in personam, Defendants – Appellees.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 2751
February 10, 2011, Decided
Plaintiff filed a complaint asserting in rem claims under Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions C and D, and in personam admiralty-based quasi-contract claims under Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions B. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Norfolk, granted a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff appealed. Defendant moved to dismiss the appeal on collateral estoppel grounds.
Plaintiff asserted Rule C and Rule D claims in two actions. The claims in both actions arose from a single transaction and were triggered by identical facts. The court found that the Rule C and Rule D claims asserted in both actions were effectively identical in all relevant ways. Plaintiff’s failure in the other proceeding to present some of the evidence it believed supported its claim did not change the nature of the issue resolved by the other courts, nor did it make it improper to give collateral estoppel effect to the decision in the other proceedings. However, plaintiff’s in personam, quasi-contract claims appeared only in the instant action. Because the Rule B claims were not raised in the other action, principles of collateral estoppel did not prevent the court from considering plaintiff’s appeal of the Rule B claims. Plaintiff’s inability to assert a contract claim did not automatically foreclose its quasi-contract claims. The quasi-contract claims seemed to be cognizable in admiralty. The absence of admiralty jurisdiction over plaintiff’s Rule C and Rule D claims did not necessarily mean that admiralty jurisdiction was similarly lacking over the quasi-contract claims.
Defendant’s motion to dismiss was granted as to plaintiff’s appeal of its Rule C and Rule D claims. The motion to dismiss was denied as to plaintiff’s appeal of its Rule B quasi-contract claims. The portion of the order that concluded that the absence of admiralty jurisdiction over plaintiff’s Rule C and Rule D claims necessarily foreclosed the quasi-contract claims was vacated. The quasi-contract claims were remanded for further proceedings.
Electronic fund transfers (EFTs) attached pre-Jaldhi had to be released where a creditor obtained a final judgment but had not executed it against the attached funds that were being retained by banks in suspense accounts pursuant to Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions B attachments.
EITZEN BULK A/S, Plaintiff-Appellee, ABC, Plaintiff, v. ASHAPURA MINECHEM, LTD., Defendant-Appellant, DEF, et. al
Docket No. 10-0976-cv
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 2922
February 15, 2011, Decided
Defendant, originator or beneficiary, appealed an order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denying its motion to vacate maritime attachments obtain by plaintiff, a creditor bank, of electronic fund transfers (EFTs) entered pursuant to Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions B.
In Jaldhi, the court held that EFTs were not properly attachable under Rule B, and that the holding applied retroactively to all cases open on direct review. In the instant case, the court concluded that EFT’s attached pre-Jaldhi had to be released where a creditor obtained a final judgment but had not executed it against the attached funds that were being retained by banks in suspense accounts pursuant to Rule B attachments. The attachment of EFTs between defendant and third parties was invalid under the rule announced in Jaldhi. Because the judgment against defendant was not executed against the funds, its finality did nothing to alter the legal basis of plaintiff’s retention of the funds in the suspense accounts. So far as the equities between the parties favoring plaintiff were concerned, the court had specifically forbidden resort to equitable considerations in addressing motions to vacate pre-Jaldhi attachment orders. The district court was obligated, pursuant to Jaldhi and Hawknet, to vacate the attachment order.
The court vacated the district court’s order denying defendant’s motion to vacate the Rule B attachment and remanded with instructions to release those funds.
Employer was properly found liable on a Jones Act injury claim because the district court used the correct “producing cause” causation standard with a featherweight burden of proof to establish the seaman’s exposure to benzene while working for the employer specifically caused his leukemia.
KELLY CLARK; RICHARD WAYNE CLARK, Temporary Administrator of the Estate of Aubrey Eugene Clark, Plaintiffs – Appellees v. KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT L.L.C., Defendant – Appellant
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 2354
February 4, 2011, Filed
Defendant, an employer’s successor (employer), appealed a judgment entered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in favor of plaintiff seaman following a bench trial on the seaman’s claim under the Jones Act. The district court held the employer liable on the Jones Act personal injury theory alone, finding that the seaman was exposed to benzene while working for the employer.
The district court found that the seaman’s exposure to benzene caused the seaman’s acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The employer argued on appeal that the district court applied the wrong standard for causation. On review, the court affirmed. Although the U.S. Supreme Court had granted certiorari as to causation, precedent required that the district court use the standard of “producing cause,” rather than proximate cause, and that the burden of proof was featherweight. Thus, the district court committed no error. Further, the district court properly found that the seaman proved specific causation in this case, establishing that his exposure while working for the employer caused his AML. The determination of the district court that the seaman, his treating doctor, and a co-worker testified truthfully was a permissible view of the evidence, and the court was thus, obliged to treat it as conclusive. Finally, while the district court did not credit that the seaman was exposed to as much benzene as his expert concluded, both the expert and the district court had sufficient factual evidence to conclude that the seaman was exposed to some level of benzene high enough to cause his AML.
The court affirmed the judgment.
In Jones Act suit, the district court did not clearly err in its findings as to negligence, causation, or damages, because, inter alia, the district court’s finding that the supervisor was negligent and should have ordered the men to cut rather than retrieve the mooring line was plausible in light of the record as a whole.
LAVERN D. BONIN, Plaintiff – Appellee v. RYAN MARINE SERVICES, INC., Defendant – Appellant
No. 10-40784 Summary Calendar
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 3227
February 17, 2011, Filed
Plaintiff employee sued defendant employer under the Jones Act and pursuant to general maritime law, alleging negligence regarding injuries that he sustained to his left shoulder in the course of his employment. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas found in favor of the employee and awarded him damages. The employer appealed.
The employee was working for the employer on a vessel when his supervisor ordered him and another deckhand to go to the anchor platform in order to detach the vessel from a work platform on shore, to which the vessel was attached. The employee claimed that he suffered a severe injury to his left shoulder while attempting to retrieve the mooring line, impairing his ability to work. The appellate court determined that the district court did not clearly err in its findings as to negligence, causation, or damages because (1) the district court’s finding that the supervisor was negligent and should have ordered the men to cut rather than retrieve the mooring line was plausible in light of the record as a whole, (2) there was no clear error in the district court’s finding regarding causation since there was evidence that the employee suffered the injury after being sent by the supervisor to the anchor platform to attempt to retrieve the mooring line, and (3) the district court did not clearly err in the lost past and future wages that it awarded to the employee.