Skip to main content

New Marine Insurance and Seaman's Arbitrability Decisions

A couple of interesting decisions have come down from the First and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeal that are of interest to maritime practitioners. The first, relates to a marine insurance policy and its applicability resulting from a vessel seizure; the second, relates to the arbitrability of maintenance and cure, seaman's wages and other such claims.

In Markel Am. Ins. Co. v. Diaz-Santiago, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court below. In 2008, MDS purchased a vessel and executed a note in favor of FirstBank, secured by a preferred ship mortgage under an agreement that required that they maintain insurance. In 2009, Customs and Border Protection seized the vessel as part of a drug enforcement action. The search and seizure damaged the vessel, significantly decreasing its value. Customs notified FirstBank, which initiated an administrative forfeiture proceeding, intervened in the criminal case, obtained voluntary dismissal of the indictment against the vessel, then submitted an insurance claim for "loss of the vessel including, without limitation, the value of the Bank's collateral, legal fees incurred in attempting to secure its release, as well as any applicable costs and interests." The insurer denied the claim. The district court granted FirstBank partial summary judgment and awarded $74,512.50 in attorneys' fees for costs and expenses incurred in securing release of the vessel and defending the validity of the policy. 
In Aggarao, Jr. v. Mol Ship Mgmt. Co., the Plaintiff, a citizen of the Philippines, brought suit against defendants for damages arising from severe injuries he sustained aboard the M/V Asian Spirit in the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore. The Plaintiff's complaint alleged multiple clams against defendants, including unseaworthiness, maintenance and cure, breach of contract, violation of the Seaman's Wage Act, 46 U.S.C. 10313(i), and negligence under general maritime law and the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104. The court affirmed the district court's judgment that the arbitration clause at issue was enforceable and that the Plaintiff must arbitrate his claims against defendants in the Philippines. Nevertheless, the court vacated the dismissal of the case and remanded for reinstatement thereof, for assessment of the injunction request, for entry of a stay pending arbitration to ensure that the Plaintiff would have an opportunity at the award-enforcement stage for judicial review of his public policy defense based on the prospective waiver doctrine, and for such other and further proceedings.
You may click on the name of the decision above to obtain a complete copy of the decision. Otherwise, please feel free to contact me to obtain a copy of either of these decisions at or


  1. choosing the right marine insurance policy is really a tough task,one have to see all the facts before considering the right policy for their boat. This is really very good blog and one can study both the claims in this blog before choosing the right marine insurance policy for their boat.

  2. Excellent post, I will be checking back regularly to look for updates.
    Roofing Insurance


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Maritime Law--U.S. Crewmember Required to Arbitrate Claims Applying Norwegian Law

In Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 15-14775 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a U.S. citizen, working aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is required to arbitrate his claims against Royal Caribbean.
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 presented an issue of first impression: Whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls o…

Maritime Law--Tour Boat Captain Implicated in Tragedy Off Nicaragua

As reported in the Daily Business Review on January 25, 2016, Nicaragua's police, army and navy will investigate the captain of a tourist boat and his assistant for the deaths of 13 Costa Rican passengers killed on January 23rd when the vessel capsized in bad weather. The Reina del Caribe, Spanish for "Caribbean Queen," was carrying 33 people when it went down Saturday amid rain and strong winds as it ferried between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination, off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Daily Business Review article can be accessed here=> Daily Business Review article.

The government clarified on the 24th that the boat was carrying 25 Costa Ricans, two Americans, two British citizens, a Brazilian and three Nicaraguans. Previous reports had said there were 32 people on board, including four Americans. All the dead were Costa Ricans.

Nicaragua's naval commander for the southern Caribbean region said the boat's captain was detained because the …

Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 p…