Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Admiralty & Maritime Law
Psara Energy, Ltd. v. Advantage Arrow Shipping, LLC
Psara Energy appealed the district court's order granting a motion to refer to arbitration this action alleging breach of contract, fraudulent transfer and corporate succession theories against the Advantage Defendants.The Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal based on lack of appellate jurisdiction because the district court's order, which administratively closed the case, is not a final, appealable order under the Federal Arbitration Act. In this case, the collateral order doctrine does not apply to orders concerning arbitration governed by the FAA, and 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(3) is inapplicable to referrals to arbitration in admiralty cases that do not determine a party's substantive rights or liabilities. View "Psara Energy, Ltd. v. Advantage Arrow Shipping, LLC" on Justia Law
Cvoro v. Carnival Corp.
Plaintiff appealed the denial of her petition to "vacate and/or alternatively to deny recognition and enforcement" of the foreign arbitral award in favor of her employer, Carnival, on her claims under the Jones Act and U.S. maritime law for injuries related to her carpal tunnel.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the petition, holding that plaintiff failed to establish that the foreign arbitral award offended the United States' most basic notions of morality and justice. Weighing the policies at issue and considering the specific unique factual circumstances of this case, the court held that plaintiff's Article V(2)(b) of the New York Convention defense failed. Therefore, the court held that the district court did not err in denying plaintiff's request that it refuse to enforce the arbitral award and dismissing her claims. View "Cvoro v. Carnival Corp." on Justia Law
Internaves de Mexico S.A. de C.V. v. Andromeda Steamship Corp.
Andromeda and Internaves entered into a shipping contract that unambiguously required the parties to submit their dispute to arbitration. At issue on appeal was where the parties agreed to arbitrate. The district court was unable to determine the site of arbitration and resorted to the statutory default forum, compelling arbitration in its own district. The court reversed and remanded with instructions to compel arbitration in London under English law. The court held that the parties' intention to arbitrate in London was discernible from the very terms they wrote into the contract and thus the parties provided for the forum, which the district court was obliged to recognize and uphold. View "Internaves de Mexico S.A. de C.V. v. Andromeda Steamship Corp." on Justia Law
Stemcor USA Inc. v. Cia Siderurgica do Para Cosipar
The Fifth Circuit granted TKM's, the intervenor plaintiff, motion for panel rehearing and denied the motion for rehearing en banc. The court withdrew the prior opinion and substituted the following opinion.Daewoo filed suit against AMT, seeking an order compelling AMT to arbitrate and an attachment of pig iron owned by AMT. TKM attached the same pig iron in Louisiana state court and then intervened in the federal suit. The court held that it had subject matter jurisdiction under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, because Daewoo's suit related to a covered arbitration agreement. In this case, the parties dispute whether Louisiana's non-resident attachment statute allowed for attachment in aid of arbitration. The court declined to adopt a categorical approach to this issue and held that, because Louisiana law allowed for attachment in aid of yet-to-be-brought actions, non-resident attachment may be available in aid of arbitration when an eventual confirmation suit was contemplated. The court affirmed the district court's judgment, nonetheless, because Daewoo did not strictly comply with the attachment statute's procedural requirements. View "Stemcor USA Inc. v. Cia Siderurgica do Para Cosipar" on Justia Law
Galilea, LLC v. AGCS Marine Insurance Co.
An arbitration provision in a maritime insurance policy is enforceable despite law in the forum state assertedly precluding its application. This case concerned the scope of insurance coverage Galilea bought for its yacht. The Ninth Circuit held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1-16, applied to the insurance policy but not the insurance application. In this case, the insurance application was not a contract, but the insurance policy was a contract subject to the FAA because the FAA constituted established federal maritime law for maritime transactions; federal maritime law was not precluded by Montana law under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. 1012; and federal maritime law was not precluded by Montana law under M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1 (1972). The panel also held that the parties have delegated arbitrability issues to an arbitrator. Therefore, the panel affirmed the district court's order finding the policy's arbitration clause enforceable and affirmed the district court's order granting the Underwriters' motion to compel arbitration as to certain causes of action. The panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Galilea, LLC v. AGCS Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Yang v. Dongwon Industries, Ltd.
The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards does not allow nonsignatories or non-parties to compel arbitration. The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) expressly exempted from its scope any contracts of employment of seamen. In this maritime action, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to compel arbitration arising from the death of a seaman in the sinking of a fishing vessel. Dongwon moved to compel arbitration based on an employment agreement between the seaman and the vessel's owner, Majestic. The panel held that Dongwon was neither a signatory nor a party to the employment agreement. The panel also held that Dongwan could not compel arbitration on grounds other than the Convention Treaty, such as the FAA. View "Yang v. Dongwon Industries, Ltd." on Justia Law
Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.
Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presents an issue of first impression: whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls on foreign ports constitutes “performance . . . abroad” under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 9 U.S.C. 202. The Convention makes enforceable an arbitration agreement between United States citizens if their contractual relationship “envisages performance . . . abroad.” The court affirmed the order compelling arbitration of the dispute because a seaman works abroad when traveling in international waters to or from a foreign state. View "Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd." on Justia Law
Martinez v. Carnival Corp.
Plaintiff, a Honduran citizen who suffered a back injury while employed as a mason aboard one of Carnival's ships, filed suit against Carnival in state court asserting claims of Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104, negligence, unseaworthiness, and failure to provide adequate maintenance and cure. Plaintiff alleged that the physician chosen and paid by Carnival negligently performed his back surgery. Carnival removed to federal court. On appeal, plaintiff appealed the district court's order compelling arbitration of his claims under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (CREFAA), 9 U.S.C. 201-208. Plaintiff argued that his Jones Act claim did not fall within his employment contract ("Seafarer's Agreement") with Carnival and, therefore, was not within the scope of the contract's arbitration clause. The court concluded that the order compelling plaintiff to arbitrate his claims was "a final decision with respect to arbitration," and the court had appellate jurisdiction. The court also concluded that plaintiff's dispute with Carnival clearly arose out of or in connection with the Seafarer's Agreement and was subject to arbitration. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order. View "Martinez v. Carnival Corp." on Justia Law
Blue Whale Corp. v. Grand China Shipping Dev. Co., Ltd., et al.
This case stemmed from a maritime contract entered into by Blue Whale and Development. Blue Whale filed a complaint in district seeking to attach property belonging to Development's alleged alter ego, HNA, in anticipation of a future arbitration award against Development pursuant to Rule B of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. The court concluded that the district court properly applied federal maritime law to the procedural question of whether Blue Whale's claim sounded in admiralty, and the claim did sound in admiralty because it arose out of a maritime contract; the issue of the claim's prima facie validity was a substantive inquiry; however, the district court's application of English law to this question was improper because the charter's party's choice-of-law provision did not govern Blue Whale's collateral alter-ego claim against HNA; and drawing on maritime choice-of-law principles, the court held that although federal common law did not govern every claim of this nature, federal common law did apply here, primarily because of the collateral claim's close ties to the United States. Accordingly, the court remanded for reconsideration of the prima facie validity of Blue Whale's alter-ego claim under federal common law. View "Blue Whale Corp. v. Grand China Shipping Dev. Co., Ltd., et al." on Justia Law
Harrisson v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd.
Plaintiff, a former seaman employee of defendant, was injured on the job and sued defendant in Florida state court claiming that defendant was negligent under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104, and failed to provide maintenance and care as required by U.S. maritime law. Defendant, noting that plaintiff's employment contract required the parties to submit disputes to arbitration, removed the case to federal district court under 9 U.S.C. 205. After the removal, the district court in a single order denied defendant's motion to enforce the arbitration clause on the basis that the arbitration clause was void under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (Convention) for violating public policy and remanded the matter back to state court. Defendant appealed this order. Plaintiff moved to dismiss the appeal and argued that by concluding that the arbitration clause was null and void, there was no longer a basis for jurisdiction. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and the court subsequently granted plaintiff's motion to dismiss defendant's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Harrisson v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd." on Justia Law