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Beware! Defective Appurtenances: A Discussion of the “Substantial Relationship” Requirement for Invoking Admiralty Jurisdiction in the Products Liability Context

Admiralty jurisdiction has long posed a formidable opponent to those seeking to understand its subtleties. Fortunately, perhaps, for the maritime bar, substantial issues yet remain around its murky edges that require further discourse. The determination whether a products liability claim falls within admiralty jurisdiction can, at times, lead one into uncharted waters. This Comment will attempt to shed some light into the murky corners of admiralty jurisdiction's reach so that those far wiser may choose an enlightened path toward the smooth sailing of logical, established precedent. To accomplish this goal, this Comment will first briefly discuss the adoption of products liability into admiralty jurisdiction. This discussion will be followed by an in-depth analysis of the Supreme Court of the United States' formulation of admiralty jurisdiction in the tort context, which is intended to give the reader a historical lens through which to view the current approaches. Next, this Comment will highlight the three approaches used by courts today in resolving whether a products liability claim satisfies the “substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity” component of the admiralty jurisdiction test. Read More »

Fifth Amendment Due Process, Foreign Shipowners, and International Law

Ninety percent of world trade moves on ships. These vessels are often owned by one party, managed by another party, then chartered and subchartered to additional actors. The shipowners and their home ports are spread across the world, creating the serious need for a predictable, uniform, and simple set of admiralty law rules that resolve disputes and make trade flow smoothly. In addition to appropriate substantive maritime law rules, it is important that the vessels' owners be subject to process in national courts to allow for fair and convenient adjudication of disputes for all maritime players. Read More »

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