Admiralty Outline Fall 2003
Admiralty is federal law, originating in Article III, § 2 of Constitution. i.
First Congress included Cases of Admiralty/Maritime in Judiciary Act. ii.
If say that case is admiralty/maritime case, governed by admiralty law, is to say that substantive admiralty law applies. i.
Differences: statute of limitations, comparative laws for recovery, etc. a.
Main: trial by judge. From very beginning, admiralty cases are w/o juries. May be why someone brings suit in admiralty to avoid the jury. ii.
Admiralty cases can't be removed from state to federal courts. a.
but most admiralty cases can be brought in state courts unless qualify under diversity. b.
But federal admiralty law will be applied.
Jurisdiction arises under:
28 USC 1331: federal question
28 USC 1332: diversity
28 USC 1333: admiralty & maritime.
BUT, Congress didn't choose to enact substantive law in the statutes left to courts. v.
Courts mainly address three issues:
what is an admiralty case?
if it is, what is the admiralty rule?
construing the savings to suitors clause eg, what types of cases does Congress mean to say that we only want federal courts sitting in admiralty to have jurisdiction over?
Basics of Admiralty
Requires: Locality + maritime nexus
Executive Jet decision.
DeLovio v. Boit (1815): Maritime insurance policies are within admiralty & maritime jurisdiction of US b/c maritime contracts include charter parties, affreightments, marine bonds, Ks for repairing, supplying & navigating ships, Ks between part owners etc AND insurance.
Could only sue in rem
Forbade actions in personam vs. shipowner, master.
Rules precluding admiralty court from hearing matters arising w/in body of the country. -
Forbidding admiralty jurisdiction where no influence of tide. -
Forbidding admiralty jurisdiction involving building or sale of ship. -
The Thomas Jefferson (SCOTUS, 1825): Action arising on Ohio to Missouri river is not in admiralty, because no influence of tide.
Great Lakes Act (1845): extends jurisdiction to G. Lakes. o
Becomes almost superfluous after Genesee Chief, but still allows saving to suitors the right of jury trial if wanted. o
Possible to have an equal protection argument why in GL, but not other inland navigable waters. But no caselaw.
The Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh (SCOTUS, 1851): overrules the TJ. Holds that GL Act is Constitutional. o
Lakes are inland seas
Hostile fleets have been encountered on them, prizes made, reason to have admiralty jurisdiction. o
Nothing particular in the tide that makes waters suitable for admiralty. o
Limiting admiralty in country with so many inland navigable waters is impracticable. (Policy).
Post Genesee Chief admiralty jurisdiction:
Public navigable water
On which commerce is carried on
Between different states or nations
The Eagle (SCOTUS, 1868): Tug towing brig & barge, tug caused collision. o
Issue: since GL Act limited admiralty on GL to contract & tort where vessels are over 20 tons, since Genesee Chief, is there general jurisdiction over all vessels on GL? o
Holding: Yes. GL is pretty much obsolete can use regular admiralty rules.
Admiralty Jurisdiction in Contract Cases:
North Pacific Steamship v. Hall Brothers Marine (SCOTUS, 1919): in personam action for unpaid repair bill.
Repairs at drydock count as admiralty claims. Doesn't matter if drydocked or afloat. o
Contract for building ship isn't maritime.
Contract for repairing ship is maritime.
Once ship is launched, issues about the ship are maritime.
Kossick v. United Fruit (SCOTUS, 1961): Seaman who made oral agreement with master about medical treatment has claim in admiralty to say not maritime is too narrow. o
Note: in maritime law, oral contract is valid under statute of frauds. The answer of the...
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