Because there were no clear territorial limits to federal maritime tort jurisdiction and the strength of ties to the U.S. did not impact 28 U.S.C.S. § 1333(1) admiralty jurisdiction, refusal to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction over a Mexican vessel owner’s allision with a drilling unit’s Mexican owner in Mexican waters was affirmed.

PERFORACIONES EXPLORACION Y PRODUCCION, also known as Protexa; CERTAIN REINSURING UNDERWRITERS, Subscribing to Reinsurance Contract No. AHE-03004 As Amended to No. AHE-04004, Plaintiffs-Appellees v. MARITIMAS MEXICANAS, S.A. DE C.V., also known as MarMex, Defendant-Appellant

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 26746

November 2009, Filed

PROCEDURAL POSTURE:

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff drilling unit owner sued defendant vessel owner (VO) for damages to the unit in Mexican waters. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division, denied dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, forum non conveniens, and international comity, and found the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, Nov. 19, 1976, 1456 U.N.T.S. 221, did not limit liability. The VO appealed.

OVERVIEW:

OVERVIEW: There were no clear territorial limits to federal maritime tort jurisdiction and the strength of the case’s ties to the United States (U.S.) did not impact admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1333(1). Subject matter jurisdiction over the allision existed. The forum non conveniens analysis considered the inaccessibility of certain evidence and assumed certain documents were not yet translated. It simply found that those concerns were outweighed by the delay that would accompany dismissal, the completed translation of other documents, and the availability of many witnesses. The VO had stipulated that the allision occurred, and its liability was later found at a short trial. There was no showing it would be greatly prejudiced if trial went forward on damages. Mexico had remained silent, and it was unclear how the resolution of the dispute by a U.S. court would impede Mexico’s ability to exercise its sovereign rights. The U.S. had not adopted the Convention and its cap was not “substantive” because it was not so integral as to follow liability in all maritime cases, as an absolute cap on recovery would. Thus, it was not error to find the cap inapplicable.

OUTCOME:

OUTCOME: The district court’s rulings were affirmed and the case was remanded for a trial on the scope of damages awardable to the drilling unit owner.

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In a case in which real parties in interest sued cruise line over surcharges added to the price of shore excursions, trial court’s order denying cruise line’s motion for summary judgment on real parties’ statutory causes of action was vacated because real parties failed to show that they relied on cruise line’s alleged misrepresentations.

PRINCESS CRUISE LINES, LTD., Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; H. ROGER WANG et al., Real Parties in Interest

COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT, DIVISION EIGHT
179 Cal. App. 4th 36; 101 Cal. Rptr. 3d 323; 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 1809

November 10, 2009, Filed

PROCEDURAL POSTURE:

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Real parties in interest sued petitioner cruise line over surcharges added to the price of shore excursions taken during a cruise conducted by petitioner. Real parties alleged five causes of action. Respondent, the Los Angeles County Superior Court, California, granted summary adjudication on two of the causes of action, but denied petitioner’s motion for summary judgment. Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of mandate.

OVERVIEW:

OVERVIEW: The first three causes of action were based on the unfair competition law (UCL), the false advertising law (FAL), and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA). The fourth and fifth causes of action were based on common law fraud and negligent misrepresentation. The trial court denied petitioner’s motion for summary judgment on the UCL, FAL and CLRA causes of action because it concluded that real parties did not have to show that they relied on petitioner’s alleged misrepresentations. However, the instant court concluded that real parties were required to show that they relied on petitioner’s alleged misrepresentations. Real parties did not rely on any representations made by petitioner because it did not make any difference to them how much the excursions cost. Real parties would have gone on the excursions whatever the price was and without reference to anything petitioner said or did in connection with the excursions. It therefore followed that it was immaterial how real parties heard about the excursions and what, if anything, petitioner said or wrote about them. There was no evidence to contradict petitioner’s evidence that the surcharges were justified by its expenses.

OUTCOME:

OUTCOME: The trial court’s order denying petitioner’s motion for summary judgment was vacated, and the case was remanded with directions to grant the motion.

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Maritime employer’s appeal from district court’s denial of its motion to stay employee’s action in favor of arbitration was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because neither 9 U.S.C.S. § 16(a)(1)(A) nor § 3 applied to case, and district court’s decision to proceed with suit was not “final decision” immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1291.

MICHAEL L. SHERWOOD, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MARQUETTE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, LLC, and BLUEGRASS MARINE, LLC, Defendants-Appellants.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT
587 F.3d 841; 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 25581

November 23, 2009, Decided

PROCEDURAL POSTURE:

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant maritime employer appealed a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois denying its motion to stay an action brought by plaintiff maritime employee under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. §§ 30101-06, and general maritime law, alleging that he suffered an injury while working as a deckhand. The employer had asked the district court to stay the suit in favor of arbitration.

OVERVIEW:

OVERVIEW: The district court found that the Federal Arbitration Act preempted any state law that concerned arbitration and that the Act did not apply to contracts of employment of seamen under 9 U.S.C.S. § 1. The employer appealed, relying on 9 U.S.C.S. § 16(a)(1)(A), which authorized interlocutory review of any order refusing a stay of any action under 9 U.S.C.S. § 3. On appeal, the court noted that § 16 was part of the Act, and thus, it did not apply to an employment contract involving a seaman. Second, § 3 was inapplicable, and the employer’s motion for a stay did not rely on it. Instead, the employer founded its motion on the parties’ contract and Illinois law. Neither § 3 nor § 16 applied to a motion to stay when state rather than federal law was the source of the obligation to arbitrate. Thus, the court lacked jurisdiction because the employee’s action was ongoing in the district court. The district court’s refusal to stay the action was not appealable as a collateral order because the issue could be resolved on appeal from the final decision. Thus, the district court’s decision to proceed with the suit was not a “final decision” immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1291.

OUTCOME:

OUTCOME: The court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

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Summary judgment was reversed on Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, and unseaworthiness claims because there were triable issues of material facts as to whether requiring a 16-hour work day, seven days a week, for months at a time, was negligent or creates an unseaworthy condition; and whether such negligence or unseaworthiness caused an injury.

SAMSON ILI, Plaintiff – Appellant, v. AMERICAN SEAFOODS CO., LLC, AMERICAN TRIUMPH, LCC, Defendants – Appellees

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 25877

 

November 25, 2009, Filed

PROCEDURAL POSTURE:

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff seaman who was injured while he worked brought two causes of action against defendant employer and boat owner: negligence under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, and unseaworthiness under maritime common law. The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment on the claims. The seaman appealed.

OVERVIEW:

OVERVIEW: The employer required 16-hour shifts, with no days off, for months at a time, on the boat on which the seaman worked. The disputed issues were whether the shift length created an unsafe work environment and whether the long shift was a cause, however slight, of the seaman’s injury. A reasonable jury could conclude that requiring him to work a 16-hour shift was a breach of his employer’s duty to provide a safe work environment. He fell during the final hour of his 16-hour shift. He had previously complained that his shift was too long and caused him to be exhausted. His job involved lifting and flipping 70-pound trays of frozen fish. At the time of his injury, the boat rolled and the seaman tried to shift his weight when his legs gave out under him. This was sufficient to establish a genuine issue of material fact whether the length of his shift played any role, however slight, in causing his fall and his subsequent injury. The district court erred in granting summary judgment on the Jones Act claim. It was also disputed issues are whether the length of the shift was an unseaworthy condition and whether the shift length proximately caused the injury.

OUTCOME:

OUTCOME: The summary judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.