Archives: Maritime

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SCOTUS Decides Dutra Group v. Batterton

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in this landmark case concerning punitive damages.  The six justices in the majority opinion reversed the Ninth Circuit and resolved a circuit split on this issue.  The question presented was whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal injury suit … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds State Wage and Hour Laws are Inapplicable to Offshore Drilling Platforms

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications, the United States Supreme Court issued a June 10 opinion holding that California’s wage-and-hour laws do not apply to workers on oil and gas platforms located in open water on the Outer Continental Shelf. The plaintiffs in Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton, were offshore rig workers who filed … Continue Reading

5th Circuit Grants En Banc Rehearing to Address Federal Officer Removal

After years of inconsistent rulings, the Fifth Circuit is poised to address a removal issue with significant ramifications for Louisiana tort cases. The previous version of 28 U.S.C. § 1442 authorized removal to federal court of a suit against a federal officer “only when the state suit was ‘for any act under color of such … Continue Reading

Louisiana Supreme Court Limits Effect of Collateral Source Rule in Personal Injury Cases

On May 9, 2019, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an important opinion restricting application of the collateral source rule in personal injury lawsuits. In Simmons v. Cornerstone Investments, LLC, et al., 2018-CC-0735 (La. 5/8/19), the Court held the collateral source rule inapplicable to medical expenses charged above the amount actually paid by a workers’ compensation … Continue Reading

Admiralty Professor Haycraft Reports from the Courthouse Steps on the Dutra v. Batterton Supreme Court Argument

This morning I attended oral argument at the United States Supreme Court in the maritime case of Dutra Group v. Batterton.[1]  The question in the case is whether a Jones Act seaman may recover punitive damages on an unseaworthiness claim.  Former Solicitor General Seth Waxman argued for Petitioner Dutra Group and David Frederick argued for … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Addresses Circuit Split Regarding “Bare Metal” Defense in Products Liability Action Under General Maritime Law

In Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. Devries, No. 17-1104, — S. Ct. —, 2019 WL 1245520 (U.S. March 19, 2019), the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a circuit split regarding maritime law and the “bare metal” defense, namely whether manufacturers have a duty to warn when their bare metal product requires later incorporation of a … Continue Reading

FIFTH CIRCUIT BEGINS TO CLEAN UP ITS JURISPRUDENCE ON HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER A CONTRACT IS (OR IS NOT) MARITIME

After some thirty years of wrestling with the cumbersome six-part test set forth in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp.,[1] for determining whether a contract to perform services related to oil & gas exploration on navigable waters is maritime, the Fifth Circuit took up In re Larry Doiron, Incorporated[2] earlier this year in … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Issues Long-Awaited Ruling in OPA Liability Case

On March 29, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its ruling in In re: Petition of Frescati Shipping Co., Ltd., as Owner of the M/T ATHOS I, Nos. 16-3552, 16-3867 & 16-3868 (3d Cir. Mar. 29, 2018).  ATHOS I had its genesis in a 2004 vessel allision and oil … Continue Reading

FBA Provides Update on Maritime Developments in New Orleans and the Lower Mississippi River Region

I attended a great meeting yesterday at the Port of New Orleans hosted by the FBA Admiralty Law Committee. Here are some bullets and takeaways, which are certainly of interest to anyone in the maritime industry along the lower Mississippi River.  I am especially grateful that the following people were able to speak with us: … Continue Reading

Ninth and Fifth Circuits Split on Issue of Punitive Damages Under Maritime Law

The stage appears to be set for intervention by the United States Supreme Court following the Ninth Circuit’s recent panel decision in Batterton v. Dutra Group, No. 15-56775 (9th Cir. Jan. 23, 2018).  In Batterton, the Ninth Circuit expressly disagreed with the Fifth Circuit in holding that an injured seaman may recover punitive damages in … Continue Reading

Highly Anticipated En Banc Fifth Circuit Opinion Reframes Maritime Contract Analysis

In a highly anticipated ruling, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its en banc decision in In re: Larry Doiron, Inc., No. 16-30217 (5th Cir. Jan. 8, 2018).  The case called upon the court to determine whether a contract for performance of specialty services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms $20 Million Judgment Against Barge Owner as Responsible Party Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990

Case:    United States v. American Commercial Lines, L.L.C., No. 16-31150, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. 11/7/17). Factual Background In July of 2008, nearly 300,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi River in New Orleans when a tugboat towing an oil-filled barge veered across the river into the path of an ocean-going tanker.  American … Continue Reading

Louisiana Supreme Court Holds Punitive Damages Are Available Under General Maritime Law Against Products Liability Defendant

Case:  Warren v. Shelter Mutual Ins. Co., No. 2016-C-1647 (La. 10/18/17), ___ So. 3d ___. Factual Background A recreational boating accident occurred on navigable inland waters of Louisiana in May of 2005 resulting in the death of a 22-year old passenger. While the boat was on plane, the hydraulic steering system manufactured by defendant Teleflex … Continue Reading

The Fifth Circuit Rejects the DOJ’s Attempt to Charge Black Elk Contractors with OCSLA Felonies

In the aftermath of a 2012 platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in which three workers were killed, the Department of Justice ultimately indicted the contractors who supervised the work (along with the lease holder, Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC) with violating the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act (“OCSLA”), a felony carrying a … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Addresses A Complicated Cargo Dispute, Resulting In A Victory For Vessel-Operating Common Carriers

In GIC Services, L.L.C. v. Freightplus USA, Inc., No. 15-3097 (5th Cir. Aug. 8, 2017), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an ocean carrier stiffed by an intermediary in a freight transaction may recover unpaid freight from the original NVOCC who arranged the cargo transportation unless the evidence clearly shows the … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Greenlights Contribution Action for Purely Economic Damages Under Oil Pollution Act (OPA)

In Settoon Towing, L.L.C. v. Marquette Transportation Company, L.L.C., No. 16-30459 (5th Cir. Jun. 9, 2017), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held for the first time that a Responsible Party under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”) has a statutory claim for contribution to recover purely economic damages from a partially … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of “Good Faith” for Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Claims

On June 1, 2017, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C. applied a broad definition of the intent required of a plaintiff under the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Act.  In doing so, both the Fifth Circuit and the Louisiana Supreme Court apply a more plaintiff friendly standard to claims … Continue Reading

Oregon Federal Court Issues Remarkable Decision Finding Constitutional Right to Stable Climate

On November 10, 2016, Judge Ann Aiken, a federal district judge in Oregon, issued a remarkable environmental law decision in which she found that a climate system “capable of sustaining human life” is a fundamental constitutional right.[1] Juliana v. United States challenges the constitutionality of the United States’ decades-long policy on climate change.[2] The plaintiffs, … Continue Reading

7 Takeaways from the Maritime Investigations Presentation at This Year’s Work Boat Show in New Orleans

It is Work Boat Show time in New Orleans, and yesterday featured a great presentation on marine investigations.  Any maritime lawyer worth her salt will tell you that the best part of the practice is getting that 0200 client call about a casualty, donning your protective gear, and racing to the ship.  No other legal … Continue Reading
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