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Admiralty and Federalism

Notes: If it consummates onland then it is a maritime tort because it is caused by a maritime vessel
and is consumated onland. When a claim for relief
Supremacy Clause - The supremacy of federal law over state law only applies if Congress is acting in
pursuance of its constitutionally authorized powers.
In Rem. The action is against the maritime property such as vessel, cargo or freight, but not against the

Article 2 Section 1
Article 1 Section 8
Workmens Compensation Act – Created by the state to insure payment of a prescribed compensation
based on earnings for disability or death from accidental injuries sustained by employees engaged in
certain enumerated hazardous employment
Judiciary Act of 1789,"the federal district courts were given original jurisdiction over all admiralty and
maritime matters, with the proviso that the state courts could act in all cases where the common law
was competent to give a remedy.
Jones Act. It allows injured sailors to make claims and collect from their employers for the negligence of
the ship owner, the captain, or fellow members of the crew.
Policy Concerns.
Police Power of the states. capacity of the states to regulate behavior and enforce order within their
territory for the betterment of the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of their inhabitants.
US 1917
(We went over the facts of this case, why do we use admirality law in this case,
+Why can the defendant not use state law as a remedy in this case “the savings clause” because workers

Longshoreman got killed while loading steamboat. Court award wife workers compensation via NY State
workers compensation
Employer argues that applying the Workmens compensation in this case is unconstitutional because
Federal Employers Liability Act should apply.
Employers argument that federal law should apply and this is a maritime case? The Southern Pacific
Company is a common carrier because it operates the steamship which goes between New York and
Galveston (interstate commerce). Employee was participating in interstate commerce by loading the
SC. A maritime worker in a vessel in navigable waters cannot constitutionally receive an award under
New York’s workmen’s compensation law because the remedy in admiralty is exclusive.
Comments: I don’t think this rule applies today.
There are some things a state cannot do…
What should I know from this case?
+What are the differences between the state and federal remedies?
+How do we determine if we apply federal remedies or state remedies?
+How does the Federal Act effect the State Act?
Court says that the Fed Act presupposes a coordinated effort with the States. It is only
concerned with recouping costs to the government in the event of a cleanup and that the state may find
that they need more remedy options from the incident.
Court also says that if there are discrepencis in cleanup costs like it costs more for the state to cleanup
then the fed gov’t then that issue may be raised in Court when it actually occurs.
It was not a remedy at common law.
Knickerbocker Ice Co. (Follows Jensen)
What has changed since Jensen. The savings clause etc. includes workers compensation now.
Why do they lose in this case? Because it conflicts with the admirality law in this case. There is some
admirality stuff that congress will not give to the state.
Wife is seeking workers compensation for her husband’s death. Compensation is awarded to the wife by
trial court and is affirmed by appellate court. Supreme courts reverses.
Facts: Stewart working for Knickerbocker fell into the Hudson river and drowned August 3, 1918.
Issue: What law do we apply? - >reverse erie doctrine do we apply state law or maritime law?
Plaintiff is arguing the “saving to suitors” statute. Which states something like when common law can
provide sufficient remedy the local law should apply. E
-Courts were first applying state workers compensation law, Supreme Court of NY says we should apply
maritime law.
Policy: For applying Maritime law is for maintain open passage via waters.
What is the savings clause?
Garret v. Moore
SC of Pennsylvania 1942

Garret Brings 2 Actions.
That he was sedated when he signed the waiver.

Plaintiff was injured (blow by a hatch cover which fell on him via defendants negligence) while working
as a seaman for the defendant on a vessel traveling between U.S and Europe. Defendant spent number
of months in hospitals. Plaintiff brought suit in Pennsylvania State Court for damages under the “jones
act” and maintenance and cure

Defendant. Injuries were caused by the plaintiff getting in a fight or accidents prior to voyage. Also
say that plaintiff executed full release for consideration of $100. However it will be very difficult for
him to prove that he formed requisite intent.

Under the Pennsylvania rule one who attacks the validity of his written release has the burden of
sustaining his allegation by "clear, precise, and indubitable" evidence.

Under the maritime practice, on the other hand, treating sailors as wards of admiralty, the burden
of sustaining the validity of a release is upon the ship owner who sets it up

TC. Verdict for plaintiff $3,000 under Jones Act and $1,000 for maintenance and cure.

PSC. Pennsylvania court gave judgment for the ship owner, notwithstanding the verdict, and the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed on the ground that the matter of burden of proof was
procedural, not substantive, and was controlled therefore by the local law

SC. Reversed. The admiralty practice is clearly contra to the local rule, that the seaman's right to be free
from the burden of proof imposed by the local rule inheres in his cause of action and is "a part of the
very substance of his claim," that the admiralty rule applies both to actions under the Jones Act and to
actions for maintenance and cure, and that the admiralty rule must be applied uniformly throughout the
country whether suit is brought in admiralty or in a local court.

Askew v. American Waterways
US 1973
Do we apply the State or Federal Oil Prevention and Cleanup Act? This goes back to Jensen case.
Florida Oil Spill Prevention and Pollution Control Act (Florida Act) – Imposes strict liability for any
damage incurred by the State or private persons as a result of an oil spill in the states territorial waters
from many oil handling businesses. Each business that this applies to must show proof of insurance in
case accident occurs.  Act also provides regulation for containing/ preventing oil spill accident.
Water Quality Improvement Act (Federal Act) – Subjects ship and terminal owners to liability without
fault up to $14,000,000 and $8,000,000 for cleanup costs incurred by the Federal Government s a result
of oil spills. Also authorizes the regulation of facilities for preventing and containment.
Imposes strict liability for oil cleanup costs to a specified ceiling. And unlimited liability for
negligence and willful misconduct.
Defenses. Owner can show discharge was caused solely by an act of god, an act of war,
negligence on part of US Gov’t or
SC. There is no issue. Florida can have
What Should I know from this case?
+What are the differences between the state and federal act
+How can these Acts coexist together?
+What is this Jensen line? When does State Law apply and when does Admiralty Law takeover?

Examples of Limitation of Liability
Limitation of Liability Act 1851 – Promotes maritime commerce by limiting a ship owners liability for
damages (other than personal injury or death) to the value of the ship and cargo at the end of the
voyage, unless damage resulted from the owner’s privity and knowledge. Standard of Proof is
negligence or unseaworthiness. As long as it is without the owner’s privity or knowledge, if you d a
diligent job of hiring a crew and they F up.
30502- Sets out what the Limitation of Liability Act applies to and what the term of owner is…
What is the relation between the FWPCA and this Limitation of Liability Act? They seem to contradict
each other?
In re Hokkaido Fisheries Co
Boats discharged large amounts of oil into the territorial waters of Alaska. US Gov’t spends nearly $3
million to remove the oil.
Owners of vessels petition under the Limitation of Liability Act and claim a fund of $0 for the one boat
and $46,589 for the other. In which case the govt is able to recover $0 of the $550,000 expended to
clean up the oil discharged from the Ryuyo Maru and only $46,589 of the$2,238,000 expended in
cleaning up the oil from the Lee Wang Zin.
US Govt argues that FWPCA applies outside the Limitation Act. Under FWPCA, the shipowner would be
strictly liable.
DC. US may recover under the FWPCA, regardless of the Limitation Act.
The Torry Canyon
Who can object to limitation Fund? Is this a proper owner under 35101…

Restrictions on Economic Damages

Robbins Dry Dock And Repair v. Flint
US 1927

Defendant the Dry dock had a contract with the owner of the steamship. While the Steamship was
docked the propeller was negligently injured by the defendant (dry dock). Plaintiff the time charters are
trying to sue the defendant for not having use of the boat while it was being fixed.

Defendants actually settled with the owners of the steamship and received release of all their claims.

The plaintiff (time charters) are arguing that the dry docking was made for the benefit of their use of the
boat and the injury was therefore incidental to the plaintiff.

DC. Allowed recovery on the ground that the plaintiffs had a property right in the vessel while they were
chartering the vessel. AC. Says that the issue must be worked out through the contract relations with
the owners.

SC. A ship's time charterer has no action for loss of the ship's use while it is laid up for repairs
necessitated by defendant's negligence. “Before a stranger can avail himself of the exceptional
privilege of suing for a breach of an agreement, to which he is not a party, he must, at
least, show that it was intended for his direct benefit.”

Issue. is the property right that the charters have in the steamship as they are not actually the owners.
Seems more likely that the Charters should be suing the owner of the boat, because they are the ones
not living up to the contract of having a working steamship?

Questions. Does it matter how much the defendant in this case knows that there is a contract between
the charters and the owners of the boat?

Policy. The reason for this rule is strictly pragmatic, otherwise liability would be virtually open-ended.

The M/V Testbank
Court of Appeals 1985
Testbank vs Robins Drydock – Issue is foreseeability
Rule. Claims for economic loss must be accompanied by evidence of physical damage to a proprietary
interest. Fisherman that commercial use water have a special protection because they commercially use
waters. Restaurants etc. do not. `
Plaintiffs argue. Physical damage is not preresquite where damage suffered is foreseeable. Also argue
that pollution from incident is public nuisance.
DC. Entered summary judgement in favor of defendants for all claims except the commercial fisherman
who has been making commercial use of the waters.
Fisherman had been making commercial use of the actual embargoed waters
AC. Plaintiffs who sustained no physical damage to property as a result of chemical spill and subsequent
embargo could not recover against entities responsible for spill for purely economic damages
Issue. Is physical damage to a proprietary interest still a prerequisite to recovery for economic loss in
cases of unintentional maritime tort?
District court granting summary judgment to defendants on all claims for economic losses
unaccompanied by physical damage is affirmed.
Dissent. Should be based on conventional tort principles of foreseeability and proximate cause.