Clouding the Waters of Maritime Litigation

By Anderson, Thomas R. | Albany Law Review, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview

Clouding the Waters of Maritime Litigation


Anderson, Thomas R., Albany Law Review


INTRODUCTION

The United States Constitution provides that the federal judicial power "shall extend . . . to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction."(1) Despite this grant, the federal courts have never had exclusive jurisdiction of maritime cases.(2) State and federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction of some maritime claims.(3) In particular, state and federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction of maritime actions brought under the "saving to suitors" clause(4) or the Jones Act.(5)

The ability of state courts to exercise jurisdiction of maritime cases is significant to maritime litigation. State courts exercising personal jurisdiction of maritime claims may supplement federal maritime law with their own rules and remedies as long as the additions do not substantively alter that law.(6) A state remedy or rule impermissibly alters the substantive maritime law when it "works material prejudice to the characteristic features of the general maritime law or interferes with the proper harmony and uniformity of that law in its international or interstate relations."(7)

A controversy recently existed as to whether state courts exercising jurisdiction over maritime claims could deny defendants the defense of forum non conveniens, which allows a court to dismiss or transfer a case to a more appropriate forum, if one exists.(8) State rules prohibiting forum non conveniens dismissals in state court maritime actions sparked this controversy, in part, because such dismissals would be allowed if the same cases had been filed in federal court.(9) The issue was whether such rules were preempted by the federal rule.(10)

Until American Dredging Co. v. Miller,(11) courts were divided on this issue.(12) In American Dredging, the Supreme Court resolved this dispute by holding that federal law does not preempt state forum non conveniens rules in maritime cases filed in state courts.(13) Applying the Jensen test,(14) the Court reasoned that forum non conveniens is neither characteristic of admiralty law(15) nor essential for maintaining the uniformity of the general maritime law.(16) As a result, the Court concluded that state rules, which prohibit forum non conveniens dismissals in maritime cases, are permissible and do not alter the substantive maritime law.(17)

This Note examines American Dredging and scrutinizes the Court's rationale for holding that state laws which prohibit forum non conveniens are permissible. Part I of this Note summarizes the facts, procedural posture, and the Supreme Court's holding in American Dredging.(18) Part II analyzes the Court's holding(19) and, in particular, discusses how forum non conveniens is a characteristic feature of the general maritime law,(20) and how state rules that prohibit forum non conveniens hinder the uniformity of maritime law.(21) Part II further explores the impact that American Dredging will have on maritime litigation.(22) This Note concludes that the Court reached an erroneous conclusion in American Dredging which will negatively impact maritime litigation.

I. AMERICAN DREDGING: THE COURT TRIES TO CLEAR THE WATER

A. Factual and Procedural Background

In 1987, William Miller, a Mississippi resident, traveled to Pennsylvania to find a job.(23) American Dredging Company (American Dredging), a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey, hired Miller to work aboard a tug on the Delaware River.(24) Shortly after being hired, Miller was injured while working aboard the tug.(25)

In 1989, after having returned to Mississippi, Miller sued American Dredging in Louisiana state court pursuant to the "saving to suitors" clause, the Jones Act, and general maritime law.(26) Based on the tenuous connection between Louisiana, the parties, and the facts of the case, American Dredging made a motion to dismiss the action under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Clouding the Waters of Maritime Litigation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.