Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hassinger v. Tideland Electric Membership Corp. case brief summary

Hassinger v. Tideland Electric Membership Corp. (4th Cir. 1986)
Facts: Hassinger et al sailed 2 catamarans across a Sound to a lake in North Carolina. In trying to beach the boats, they struck a power line, 3 men killed. Question is if there is admiralty jurisdiction here.
-SC has held that for admiralty jurisdiction to exist in federal courts the alleged wrong: (1) must occur on or over navigable waters and (2) bear a significant relationship to a traditional maritime activity.
-Situs requirements is satisfied if the boat or ship is partly in or over the water.
-Here question is whether the boat was in the water or not when it hit the power line
-Admiralty jurisdiction in America extends to all areas w/i the ebb and flow of the tide, regardless of whether those areas are actually covered by water at the time of the alleged event, and the best determination of the land which is actually covered by the tides most of the time is the mean high water mark
-So, boundary of admiralty jurisdiction extends to the mea high water mark at all times
-Extension of land doctrine prevents recovery in admiralty for damages to piers, docks, wharves, and similar structures extending over navigable waters and for personal injuries suffered by persons while upon such structures unless caused by a vessel on navigable waters

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