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Maritime Casualty

Admiralty Jurisdiction When Damage Occurs on Land

Admiralty Jurisdiction

My last post referenced the two-part test to determine if a claim falls under a federal court’s admiralty jurisdiction:  (1) did the incident occur on navigable waters? and (2) was the incident substantially related to a traditional maritime activity?

However, a claim can be an admiralty claim even if the damage/injury occurs on land. The Admiralty Extension Act (“AEA”), 46 U.S.C. § 30101, extends admiralty jurisdiction to “cases of injury or damage, to person or property, caused by a vessel on navigable waters, even though the injury or damage is done or consummated on land.”  Courts break the AEA down into two parts:  the “location” and “connection” tests.


All Weather Construction

Recently, in All Weather Construction, LLC v. Semco, LLC, 2016 WL 3090210 (E.D. La. June 2, 2016), the plaintiff alleged that, when the defendant launched a vessel from its shipyard, a wave travelled across the canal and damaged the plaintiff’s property on land.  The defendant argued that this was not an admiralty claim because the plaintiff failed to allege that the damage was “caused by a defective appurtenance of a ship on navigable waters.”

The Court disagreed that the land-based damage needed to be caused by a vessel’s appurtenance; it was sufficient for the plaintiff to allege that the damage was caused by the vessel itself in navigable waters. Accordingly, the plaintiff met the first factor of the AEA jurisdiction test (i.e. the “location” factor).

The Court found that the plaintiff also met the second factor of the test (i.e. the “connection” factor) by alleging that the defendant “negligently failed to control the speed of the vessel as it launched and began traveling down the river.”  The Court noted, “Although the alleged damage here is more remote than, for example, a case where a vessel hits a building, it is nonetheless reasonably foreseeable that an improper, hasty launch could create a wave that damaged nearby property.”



Because of the AEA, some claims may be admiralty claims even though they do not seem to be. If you are unsure if a claim may be an admiralty claim, it is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney.


Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.