Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Moragne v States Marine Lines case brief

Moragne v States Marine Lines case brief summary
Supreme Court, 1970

  • Edward Moragne was killed while working aboard the Palmetto on navigable waters within the State of Florida.
  • His widow and representative of his estate brought this suit in a state court against respondent States Marine Lines to recover damages for wrongful death.
  • The claims were predicated upon negligence and the unseaworthiness of the vessel.

Whether the state wrongful death statute allows recovery for unseaworhtiness.

The confusion is in the Harrisburg case and it shouldn’t be followed anymore.
Harrisburg is overruled.
An action does lie under general maritime law for death caused by violation of mairitme duties.

  • The only issue that the Supreme Court dealt with was only for unseaworthiness.
  • This case establishes the unseaworthiness claim for wrongful death.
  • Where existing law imposes a primary duty (violations of which are compensable if they cause injury), nothing in suggests that a violation should be non-actionable simply because it was serious enough to cause death.
  • Because the primary duty already exists, the decision whether to allow recovery for violations causing death is entirely a remedial matter.
  • Several statutes make it clear that there is no present public policy against allowing recovery for wrongful death.
  • This decision doesn’t require the fashioning of a whole new body of federal law, but merely removes a bar to access to the existing general maritime law.
  • In most respects, the law applied to personal-injury cases will answer all questions that arise in death cases.
  • The one aspect of a claim for wrongful death that is not precise is the determination of the beneficiaries who are entitled to recover.
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