Diversity jurisdiction was not satisfied pursuant to 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332(a)(2) because the requirement of complete diversity applied to the dual citizenship of corporations; a Bulgarian citizen attempted to sue his former employer but, though its principal place of business was in Florida, it was incorporated in Liberia, which was a foreign state.
ROSEN SLAVCHEV, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES, LIMITED, Defendant-Appellee.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 5112
March 11, 2009, Decided
Relying on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332(a)(2), plaintiff former employee sued defendant former employer for breach of contract and other claims arising out of an alleged oral contract to compensate him beyond payments received for maintenance and cure for a disability suffered while working as a seaman on a cruise ship. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore entered summary judgment for the employer.
Relying on the employer’s Florida citizenship, the employee, a citizen of Bulgaria, argued that he satisfied § 1332(a)(2). His argument, though, failed to address the fact that the employer was incorporated in Liberia. The federal court of appeals concluded that a corporation with its principal place of business in one of the United States and incorporated under the laws of a foreign state had dual citizenship for purposes of diversity citizenship. It was both a citizen of a State and a citizen of a foreign state. The requirement of complete diversity was applied to the dual citizenship of corporations and thus subject matter jurisdiction was lacking. In addition, for the first time on appeal, the employee also sought to invoke admiralty and maritime jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1333. But he claimed that he was promised compensation for his disability on a phone call while he was in Bulgaria by someone in Florida. Thus, the alleged contract was made on land, to be performed on land. Such claim was so attenuated from the business of maritime commerce that it did not implicate the concerns underlying admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.
The judgment of the district court was vacated and the case was remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Seaman who suffered illness and injury while in the service of an employer’s vessel was entitled to include his average overtime earnings in unearned wage component of his maintenance and cure remedy because collective bargaining agreement and shipping articles did not purport to limit inclusion of overtime pay in the calculation of unearned wages.
JOHN PADILLA, Plaintiff, – against – MAERSK LINE, LTD., Defendant.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21842
March 12, 2009, Filed
Plaintiff seaman asserted a claim against defendant employer under general maritime law to recover unearned wages. Before the court was the seaman’s motion for judgment on the merits with respect to the employer’s obligation to pay overtime compensation to the seaman as part of his entitlement to unearned wages.
The seaman suffered illness and injury while in the service of the employer’s vessel. The employer paid the seaman unearned wages until the end of voyage, along with maintenance and cure, but failed to pay overtime wages that the seaman otherwise would have earned in service aboard the employer’s vessel. The court held that the seaman was entitled to include his average overtime earnings in the unearned wage component of his maintenance and cure remedy. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) governing the seaman’s employment did not modify the seaman’s general maritime law right to unearned wages. Thus, the CBA did not purport to limit the inclusion of overtime pay in the calculation of unearned wages. The court found that the shipping articles did not modify or limit the seaman’s entitlement under general maritime law to overtime pay as part of his unearned wages because the wage rate in the shipping articles was predicated upon the wage rate provided for in the CBA and the shipping articles did not purport to limit the measure of unearned wages. The court concluded that the seaman’s average weekly amount of overtime prior to his injury was the proper measure of damages.
Treating the seaman’s motion as a motion for summary judgment, the court granted the seaman’s motion.
The evidence was sufficient to support liability under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104(a), because the record established that a shipmate’s back was injured when he slipped and fell on fish slime, which had been left on a dock in contravention of the duty of the vessel’s captain to maintain seaworthiness of the dock and vessel.
WILLIAM L. MARTIN, JR., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RICHARD O. HARRIS, in personam; CHERYL P. HARRIS, in personam; THE OIL SCREW FINTASTIC, OFFICIAL NUMBER 587095, her engines, equipment, tackle and apparel, in rem, Defendants-Appellants.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 5130
March 11, 2009, Decided
Appellants, a ship, its captain, and another, sought review of a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which rendered judgment in favor of appellee shipmate in his lawsuit under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104(a), seeking recovery for injuries sustained when he slipped and fell on fish slime and gurry, which had been left on a dock, injuring his back.
The shipmate had alleged that he was injured when he slipped and fell on the dock as he was boarding the vessel, which was caused by fish slime and gurry, that had not been cleaned from the dock. In ruling in favor of the shipmate, the district court found that the unseaworthiness doctrine extended to the dock next to a vessel. In upholding the district court’s decision, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to show negligence and causation under the Jones Act. In particular, the evidence supported a finding that the captain breached his duty by failing to remove fish slime from the dock the prior day, which was the normal practice and was required by the contract for the dock. The evidence also showed that the shipmate slipped on slime left on the dock. The court summarily found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant the captain’s motion for a judgment on partial findings and that he waived any right to object to admission of a photograph of the vessel’s dolphin catch. However, the court agreed that, in light of applicable U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the district court erred in awarding the shipmate prejudgment interest.
The court vacated the district court’s award of prejudgment interest, but affirmed the district court’s decision in all other respects.
Where seaman alleged that his back condition was aggravated when he slipped on loose grate and when he slipped on deck, physician’s testimony that second accident caused symptoms that required surgery satisfied Jones Act’s causation requirements with respect to second accident, but physician provided only speculative testimony as to first accident.
CHRISTOPHER LISOWSKI, Plaintiff, -against- REINAUER TRANSPORTATION CO., INC., Defendant.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23429
March 23, 2009, Filed
Plaintiff seaman sought damages under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, and the general maritime law of the United States, alleging that his preexisting back condition was aggravated by two accidents that were allegedly caused by defendant owner’s negligence and the unseaworthiness of defendant’s vessel. Before the court was plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s prior judgment granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff alleged that his spondylolisthesis was aggravated when he slipped on a loose grate and also when he slipped on a wet deck. When plaintiff sought treatment, he told a physician about the second accident, but he did not tell the physician about the first accident. In its prior judgment, the court held that the physician’s deposition testimony that the accidents could have aggravated plaintiff’s spondylolisthesis was insufficient to demonstrate that the accidents were the probable cause of the aggravation of plaintiff’s preexisting back condition. To prevent manifest injustice, the court granted plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration to consider previously uncited portions of the physician’s deposition testimony. The court held that the physician’s testimony that the second accident caused the symptoms that required surgery satisfied the causation requirements of the Jones Act and general maritime law. The physician’s testimony that the first accident could have aggravated plaintiff’s back condition was insufficient to establish causation with respect to the first accident because the physician testified that the second incident was adequate to explain plaintiff’s injury.
The court granted plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration only to the extent that the court considered previously uncited excerpts from plaintiff’s physician’s deposition testimony. On reconsideration, the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims with respect to the first incident and denied defendant’s summary judgment motion with respect to the second incident. The court rescinded its prior judgment.