9 U.S.C.S. § 1’s exemption did not apply to 9 U.S.C.S. ch. 2 cases, and a seaman’s employment contract arbitration clause fell within ch. 2, which expressly compelled enforcing such clauses, notwithstanding 46 U.S.C.S. § 10313 federal court jurisdiction on Seaman’s Wage Act claims, and the claims were subject to arbitration in the Philippines.
POTENCIANO L. AGGARAO, JR., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MOL SHIP MANAGEMENT COMPANY, LTD.; NISSAN MOTOR CAR CARRIER COMPANY, LTD., trading as Nissan Carrier Fleet; WORLD CAR CARRIERS, INCORPORATED, Defendants-Appellees, and JOHN DOE A; JOHN DOE B; JOHN DOE C, Defendants.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 5525
March 16, 2012, Decided
Plaintiff seaman sued defendants, a ship’s owner/operator, a charter party, and a crew company, for, among other claims, maintenance and cure (M&C) in connection with his severe shipboard injuries. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed for improper venue, finding arbitration was required in the Philippines. The seaman’s motion for preliminary injunction for M&C in the U.S. was denied as moot. The seaman appealed.
The 9 U.S.C.S. § 1 exemption did not apply to 9 U.S.C.S. ch. 2 cases, and the arbitration clause fell within 9 U.S.C.S. ch. 2, which expressly compelled enforcing such clauses, notwithstanding federal court jurisdiction under 46 U.S.C.S. § 10313 on Seaman’s Wage Act claims. But, the district court’s jurisdiction was not divested once the claims were subject to arbitration in the Philippines. Due to termination of M&C, the seaman had become a ward of a state. On remand, the district court was entitled to apply the hollow-formality test to the injunction request and determine if an arbitral award in the seaman’s favor in the Philippines would be empty, if M&C was not restored in the interim. So too, the district court could assess if the seaman should remain in the U.S. pending arbitration because he was not fit to be repatriated, or for lack of adequate medical care in the Philippines. Regardless of an injunction ruling, the case was to be stayed pending arbitration to ensure he could later assert his public policy defense based on the prospective waiver doctrine.
The district court’s judgment that the arbitration clause was enforceable and that the seaman had to arbitrate his claims in the Philippines was affirmed. But, the dismissal was vacated and the case was remanded for reinstatement, assessment of the injunction request, for entry of a stay pending arbitration, and for such other and further appropriate proceedings.
LIPCON, MARGULIES, ALSINA & WINKLEMAN, P.A. OBTAINS IMPORTANT DISTRICT COURT ORDER DENYING MAERSK LINE LIMITED’S SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION REGARDING HEART INJURIES SUSTAINED BY A CAREER CHIEF MATE.
Skye v. Maersk Line Limited Corporation
Case No 11-21589-CIV-CMA
Decided March 28, 2012
Defendant Maersk moved for Summary Judgment arguing that the Plaintiff’s injuries were emotional in nature and thus not compensable under the Jones Act.
Plaintiff seamen, Bill Skye, was a career Chief Mate aboard the M/V Sealand Pride, a vessel owned and operated by Defendant Maersk Line Limited Corporation (MLL). Plaintiff filed suit with claims arising under the Jones Act and for Unseaworthiness, based on the allegations that throughout his employment, Maersk acted negligently by undermanning its vessel, having convoluted rules and procedures, and forcing the Plaintiff to work exceedingly long hours with minimal to no rest. Plaintiff further alleged Maersk was negligent as a matter of law for repeatedly violating the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) and the various federal laws that implement the STCW including 46 USC § 8104; and/or 46 CFR 15.1111(a). In short, these federal laws set strict limits on the amount of hours that a seafarer can work. Due to the negligent conduct of Maersk and the Unseaworthiness of Maersk’s vessel, the Plaintiff’s suffered significant physical heart damage, including left ventricular hypertrophy and the occupational disease labile hypertension, which forced Plaintiff to retire early. Maersk moved for Summary Judgment arguing that the Plaintiff’s injuries were emotional in nature and thus not compensable under the Jones Act, based on Gottshall. The District Court reviewed the record evidence and found that there was an issue of material fact as to whether this was a compensable physical injury.
The Court denied Defendant Maersk Line Limited’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
There was no clear error in district court’s ultimate allocation of liability among vessel parties regarding a collision; remand was necessary regarding the finding that the sunken vessel owners could not limit their liability under Limitation of Liability Act, because the record did not support the finding that all “lookouts” were paid overtime.
TOTAL INVESTMENTS LIMITED, as Owner of the M/V Kariba, for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability, Plaintiff-Counter Defendant-Third-Party-Plaintiff-Appellee-Cross-Appellant, et. al -v.- M/V CLARY, Third-Party-Defendant-Cross-Defendant-Appellant-Cross-Appellee, et. al.
Docket No. 08-3031-cv(L), 08-3032-cv(XAP) & 08-3324-cv(CON)
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
673 F.3d 108; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 4899
March 8, 2012, Decided
Plaintiff colliding vessel owner brought an action for exoneration or limitation of liability regarding a collision involving defendant sunken vessel and third-party defendant third vessel. On remand, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York allocated liability among the three vessels and denied the third vessel’s motion for limitation of liability under the Limitation of Liability Act. The parties appealed.
When the three vessels came into close proximity of one another, the colliding vessel altered course to avoid the third vessel and, in doing so, struck the sunken vessel, causing it to sink. The appellate court determined that there was no clear error in the district court’s ultimate allocation of liability among the vessel parties because the district court followed the appellate court’s directive on remand to assess the relative culpability and relative causative impact of each vessel, then merged the two numbers. However, remand was necessary regarding the district court’s finding that the sunken vessel owners could not limit their liability under the Limitation of Liability Act, because the record did not support the district court’s finding that all “lookouts” were paid overtime, and without a factual connection to overtime payments or lack thereof, nothing in the district court’s analysis of limitation of liability demonstrated that the sunken vessel owners had the requisite knowledge that lookouts were not being posted.
The appellate court affirmed the district court’s allocation of liability among the three vessels, and vacated and remanded to the district court the issue of the third vessel owners’ limitation of liability
WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT AFFIRMED JURY’S AWARD OF PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN A MAINTENANCE AND CURE CASE, AND SPECIFICALLY NOTES THAT THE EXXON 1:1 RATIO FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES DOES NOT APPLY IN SUCH A MARITIME CASE.
Dana Clausen, Respondent, v. Icicle Seafoods, Inc., Appellant.
SUPREME COURT OF WASHINGTON
2012 Wash. LEXIS 234
March 15, 2012, Filed
Respondent seaman sued appellant employer under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, and for wrongful withholding of maintenance and cure. The jury awarded him $453,100 in damages, $37,420 in compensatory damages, and $1.3 million in punitive damages. The King County Superior Court (Washington) denied the employer’s motion to amend the judgment. The employer appealed. The seaman’s motion to transfer the case to the state supreme court was granted.
The seaman suffered serious injury to his lower back, neck, and hand when he lifted a 122-pound piece of steel. He filed suit for negligence under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, because he encountered persistent difficulties in getting his employer and its adjusting firm to meet its obligation to pay him maintenance and cure during his recovery. The Supreme Court of Washington held that, the trial judge, and not the jury, calculated an attorney fees award related to the employer’s willful withholding of maintenance and cure. The trial court properly exercised its discretion in determining the number of hours related to the maintenance and cure claim and the reasonable hourly rate for the attorneys. The availability of punitive damages, without a 1:1 ratio to compensatory damages, was necessary because it served as a deterrent. It was proper for the trial court to include attorney fees as part of the compensatory damages award when calculating the punitive damages ratio.
The judgment was affirmed.