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Maritime Litigation

The term "Maritime Litigation" covers a wide variety of waterfront claims, many of which may be pursued in either State Court or Federal Court, and many of which are not technically under the umbrella of "maritime law." Broadly speaking, "Maritime Law" (also known as "Admiralty Law") may be said to refer to any claim, defense, or other issue that falls within the admiralty jurisdiction of the United States District Courts. Unfortunately, Congress and the courts have struggled with the definition of "admiralty jurisdiction" for 200 years, so this is not a simple test. Essentially, in a tort action (such as a claim for negligence), admiralty jurisdiction will be awarded where an injury occurred on navigable waters in the course of an activity that bears "a significant relationship to traditional maritime activity." For a contract claim, the court will look to the subject matter of the contract, and whether it was "to be executed upon navigable waters."

Many claims which appear to be maritime claims are actually state law claims, which must be resolved in State Court. One example is a claim for the breach of a contract for the sale of a boat, or for the construction of a boat. These are not maritime claims, though they are generally litigated by maritime attorneys. Certain other claims, such as personal injury claims and title and lien disputes, may be brought in State Court or in Federal Court. These are strategy considerations that must be made at the beginning of any litigation, and an experienced maritime attorney should be consulted.

Weil & Associates is an experienced maritime law firm, with over ten years experience in litigating all types of claims which relate all types of vessels, as well as the industries that support these vessels, in State Court and in Federal Court. Give us a call if you have any questions. We will be pleased to set up an appointment.


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