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Case Summaries

Admiralty

[06/01] In Re Petition of Bruce Germain
In a petition for exoneration from or limitation of liability under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, 46 U.S.C. sections 30501-12, the District Court’s dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is reversed where, applying a recent Supreme Court multi-part test for admiralty jurisdiction, a recreational injury occurring on a recreational vessel anchored in a shallow recreational bay of navigable waters could disrupt maritime commerce and did bear a sufficient relationship to traditional maritime activity.

[05/21] Fireman?s Fund Ins. Co. v. Great Am. Ins. Co.
In a case brought by insurance companies against underwriters seeking contribution for losses and cleanup costs stemming from a dry dock that sank, the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants is affirmed where: 1) defendant Great American’s pollution insurance policy was a marine insurance contract subject to the doctrine of uberrimae fidei, and defendant Signal’s failure to disclose that the dry dock had deteriorated and that repairs recommended over several years had not been made violated its duty of utmost good faith under that doctrine; and 2) defendant Signal materially misrepresented the dry dock’s condition when it applied for coverage from defendant MSI.

[03/31] McIndoe v. Bath Iron Works
In an injury and tort action arising under federal maritime law, the district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendant shipbuilder is affirmed where: 1) the two warships at issue cannot be considered ‘products’ for the purpose of strict products liability under maritime law; and 2) the plaintiffs have failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact that exposure to asbestos during naval service was a substantial factor in their deceased ancestor’s injuries.

[02/24] Hapag-Lloyd Aktiengesellschaft v. U.S. Oil Trading LLC
In a commercial action concerning payment for purchased fuel bunkers for plaintiff?s ships, the district court?s preliminary injunction, barring suit against plaintiffs to enforce maritime liens and attach the three vessel at issue, is affirmed in part and reversed in part where: 1) the district court possessed subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute; but 2) the preliminary injunction is overbroad and is remanded for a determination of the proper scope.

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Injury & Tort Law

[07/08] Commonwealth of Virginia ex rel. Hunter Labs. v. Commonwealth of Virginia
In a settled qui tam action against multiple medical laboratory businesses, alleging that the medical laboratories had submitted false claims to the Commonwealth of Virginia for Medicaid reimbursement, in contravention of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (VFATA), the District Court’s award to the relators of a share of the settlement proceeds is vacated where the District Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the qui tam action.

[07/08] Aponte-Davila v. Municipality of Caguas
In a ‘slip-and-fall’ negligence suit invoking the federal courts’ diversity jurisdiction, the District Court’s dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is reversed where plaintiff had not abandoned his Texas domicile while receiving medical care in Puerto Rico, and, that in any event, defendant had reinstated his Texas domicile before suit was filed.

[07/07] Brooks v. Clark County
In a bail enforcement agent’s claim that a courtroom marshal used excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, when executing a judge’s order to remove a disruptive individual from her courtroom, the District Court’s denial of a motion to dismiss is: 1) affirmed in part as to denial of the marshal’s absolute immunity defense to the bail enforcement agent’s claim for damages; and 2) reversed as to the District Court’s denial of the marshal’s qualified immunity defense.

[07/05] Doe v. Hesketh
In a case brought under Masha?s Law, 18 U.S.C. section 2255, which provides a civil right of action in federal district court to victims of several federal crimes, including sexual exploitation of a child and various child pornography offenses, the District Court’s dismissal of the complaint is reversed where a restitution award for a criminal offense does not bar a later-filed civil claim by a victim under section 2255 based on that same offense.

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