After considering the factors relevant to dismissing a federal declaratory judgment action for maintenance and cure when a Jones Act claim was pending in state court, and upon applying the appropriate Ameritas factors, the court dismissed cruise line’s action seeking a declaration that it was not obligated to continue decedent employee’s benefits.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES, LTD., Plaintiff, vs. EDUARDO WHITEFIELD, through MARIA INES MURILLO MARTINEZ, as personal representative, Defendant.
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94252; 22 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D 93
October 8, 2009, Decided
Plaintiff cruise line brought the instant declaratory judgment action and claimed that it was under no obligation to continue maintenance and cure benefits for defendant, a decedent cruise ship employee estate’s, after they were terminated in February of 2008. The employee had brought a Jones Act claim under 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104 in state court which alleged negligent failure to provide adequate medical care and moved to dismiss the instant case.
The estate claimed that the case should be dismissed because there was a similar action pending in state court which permitted the instant court to properly exercise its discretion to dismiss the case. The court held that it was likely that some findings in the federal case would be res judicata to the state case if the federal case went to trial first. The crux of the federal claim appeared to be whether decedent had reached maximum medical improvement, the point at which the cruise line was entitled to terminate his maintenance and cure benefits. Based on the pleadings, the cruise line did not dispute that decedent was entitled to maintenance and cure prior to the cruise line’s termination of benefits. Therefore, it did not appear that the federal declaratory judgment action would require a factual resolution of whether decedent was injured while in the service of the vessel. Nevertheless, there was still a possibility that a damages award in the federal case could result in too much or too little recovery in the state case. Finally, the court held that the estate’s rights under the Saving to Suitors Clause in 28 U.S.C.S. § 1333 also weighed in favor of dismissal.
The estate’s motion to dismiss was granted.
Electronic fund transfers (EFTs) in New York were not subject to attachment under Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions B; EFTs that were in the possession of an intermediary bank could not be attached under N.Y. U.C.C. Law § 4-A-503 and were not a “defendant’s property” under Rule B(1)(a).
THE SHIPPING CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD., Plaintiff-Counter-Defendant-Appellant-Cross-Appellee, v. JALDHI OVERSEAS PTE LTD., Defendant-Counter-Claimant-Appellee-Cross-Appellant.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
585 F.3d 58; 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 22747
October 16, 2009, Decided
Plaintiff vessel owner filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking an ex parte maritime attachment under Supp. R. Adm. or Mar. Cl. & Asset Forfeiture Actions B for amounts allegedly owed by defendant charterer. The district court entered and then partially vacated an order of maritime attachment and garnishment. The matter was certified for interlocutory appeal.
The owner chartered its vessel to the charterer, and a dispute arose following an accident that halted cargo operations. The owner obtained an attachment order that applied to, inter alia, electronic fund transfers (EFTs). The district court vacated the attachment of EFTs of which the charterer was the beneficiary. The court of appeals overruled Winter Storm Shipping, Ltd. v. TPI, 310 F.3d 263 (2d Cir. 2002) and held that EFTs in New York were not subject to Rule B attachment. Because federal law did not compel a finding that an EFT was a “defendant’s property” under Rule B(1)(a), it was necessary to look to state law to determine property rights, and N.Y. U.C.C. Law § 4-A-503 did not permit attachments of EFTs that were in the possession of an intermediary bank. EFTs in the temporary possession of an intermediary bank were not property of either the originator or the beneficiary under New York law and could not be attached under rule B. The district court therefore did not err in partially vacating the attachment order, and a determination was needed as to whether the remaining portions of the order affecting EFTs for which the charterer was the originator also should be vacated.
The district court’s order was affirmed insofar as it vacated portions of the attachment order, and the matter was remanded with directions to consider whether to vacate the rest of the attachment order that affected EFTs.
Employee’s agreement to arbitrate claims arising from an injury in exchange for payment of advanced wages was enforceable, even if it was procedurally unconscionable and procured by duress, because the employee ratified it by accepting the advanced wage payments and thus retaining the benefits of the agreement after he was represented by counsel.
IN RE WEEKS MARINE, INC, Relator
COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTEENTH DISTRICT, HOUSTON
2009 Tex. App. LEXIS 7868
October 8, 2009, Memorandum Opinion Filed
Relator employer sought mandamus relief from an order of respondent, the presiding judge of the 215th District Court of Harris County (Texas), which denied the employer’s motion to abate and stay the proceedings and compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.S. §§ 1-16, of real party in interest employee’s negligence and unseaworthiness claims.
The employee was injured while working on a dredging vessel. He agreed to arbitrate any claims arising from his injury in exchange for the employer’s agreement to pay him advanced wages, which would be applied toward any recovery he might have against the employer. He filed suit the next month, while continuing to accept advanced wage payments under the terms of the agreement, and the employer requested that he submit his claims to arbitration pursuant to the agreement. When he refused to do so, the employer moved to compel arbitration. The trial court found that the agreement was invalid because it was procedurally unconscionable and the employer procured it by use of duress. The court held that even if the agreement had been unenforceable by reason of procedural unconscionability or duress, the employee ratified it by accepting and retaining the benefits of the agreement. He accepted the advanced wage payments after he was represented by an attorney. The court further held that the employer’s obligation to pay maintenance and cure was not a term of the agreement but arose out of maritime law; thus, an alleged breach of that obligation was not a material breach of the agreement.
The court conditionally granted the petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its order and compel arbitration of the claims.
Order compelling arbitration of plaintiff’s claims was affirmed; claims under the Seamen’s Wage Act were subject to arbitration pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, and plaintiff was subject to an arbitration agreement contained in the CBA between his union and his employer.
ROMEO BALEN, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. HOLLAND AMERICA LINE INC., Defendant-Appellee.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
583 F.3d 647; 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 21632; 187 L.R.R.M. 2145; 15 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 609
October 2, 2009, Filed
Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated, appealed from an order of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, which granted defendant’s motion to compel arbitration of plaintiff’s Seamen’s Wage Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 10313, claims.
Claims under the Seamen’s Wage Act were subject to arbitration pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, art. II, June 10, 1958, 21 U.S.T. 2517, 330 U.N.T.S. 38, as implemented by 9 U.S.C.S. §§ 201-208. Although the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) included a provision exempting contracts of employment of seamen from domestic arbitration, the FAA’s exemption clause did not apply to arbitration agreements that would, in the absence of the exemption clause, be covered by the Convention. Further, plaintiff was subject to an arbitration agreement contained in the collective bargaining agreement between his union and his employer, which was valid and enforceable under the Convention. 46 U.S.C.S. § 10317 did not invalidate plaintiff’s arbitration agreement because it did not apply to foreign vessels, and there was nothing in the record indicating that plaintiff would forfeit or be deprived of any substantive rights by arbitration because he could bring his claims in the arbitration proceedings.
The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
Where a U.S. resident died while ocean scuba diving on an expedition arranged by a Mexican resort, the venue of a suit filed by his estate under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA), 46 U.S.C.S. § 30302, was properly transferred to Mexico because the doctrine of forum non conveniens applied in admiralty, including to actions under DOSHA
GILLIAN B. LOYA, et. Al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS WORLDWIDE, INC., doing business as Westin Hotel Company, doing business as Westin Regina Golf Beach Resort and Club Regina Westin Hotel Company doing business as Westin Regina Golf and Spa Resort; CORPORATION MEXITURE SA DE CV, doing business as Xplora Adventours Los Cabos; PADI WORLDWIDE; PADI AMERICAS; JOHN DOES; RAINTREE RESORTS INTERNATIONAL INC, doing business as Club Regina WESTIN HOTEL MANAGEMENT LP; WHISKI JACK RESORTS AND CLUB Consent to Service; RESORT CONDOMINIUMS INTERNATIONAL LLC; DOUGLAS BECH; RAINTREE VACATION CLUB; WALKER HARMON, Defendants-Appellees.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
583 F.3d 656; 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 21643
October 2, 2009, Filed
Plaintiff, the personal representative of her deceased husband’s estate, appealed a judgment form the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissing the estate’s suit under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), 46 U.S.C.S. § 30301 et seq., under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The complaint also asserted claims under the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Timeshare Act.
A Washington resident died on vacation while scuba diving off the coast of Mexico on an expedition arranged by the resort at which he was staying. The decedent’s wife, as his estate’s personal representative, sought to establish liability under DOSHA for the death of an American on the high seas. The district court held that DOHSA actions fell within the admiralty jurisdiction of the federal courts and, whether or not DOHSA applied to the action, the suit was subject to discretionary dismissal based on forum non conveniens. On appeal, the court held that the doctrine of forum non conveniens could be invoked in DOSHA actions and that the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion in applying it. DOSHA authorized civil actions in admiralty, and the doctrine of forum non conveniens was well accepted in admiralty law. DOHSA did not entitle the wife to have her case heard in a United States court. Weighing private and public interest factors, the court agreed that Mexico, the place where the accident occurred, provided an adequate alternate forum, despite the fact that Mexico severely capped recoveries in wrongful death suits.
The court affirmed.