185 F.2d 662 (3rd Cir. 1950), 10018, Jordine v. Walling

Docket Nº:10018.
Citation:185 F.2d 662
Party Name:JORDINE v. WALLING et al.
Case Date:November 10, 1950
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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185 F.2d 662 (3rd Cir. 1950)



WALLING et al.

No. 10018.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

November 10, 1950

Argued Jan. 6, 1950.

Reargued Oct. 3, 1950.

As amended Nov. 27 and Dec. 14, 1950.

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on its admiralty side, transfer of maintenance and cure to admiralty docket would be directed on remand of case. Fed. Rules Civ. Proc. rules 1, 2, 28 U.S.C.A.; Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.A. 688; 28 U.S.C.A. 1331, 1338(a).

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Thomas E. Byrne, Jr., Philadelphia, Pa. (Krusen, Evans & Shaw, Philadelphia, Pa., on the brief), for appellants.

Jack Steinman, New York City (Howard Wallner, Philadelphia, Pa., on the brief), for appellee.

Before BIGGS, Chief Judge, and MARIS, GOODRICH, McLAUGHLIN, KALODNER, STALEY and HASTIE, Circuit Judges.

MARIS, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment in favor of the plaintiff entered upon the verdict of a jury in a civil action for maintenance and cure. The action was begun by a seaman and prosecuted after his death by his administratrix. The appeal presents two questions of law for our consideration. The first question is whether the district court had jurisdiction, in the absence of diversity of citizenship, to entertain the plaintiff's cause of action for maintenance and cure in a civil action brought and tried under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 1 as distinguished from a suit in admiralty brought and tried under the Admiralty Rules and procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. This question we answer in the negative. The second question then arises. It is this. Did the district court nonetheless acquire jurisdiction of the plaintiff's civil action for maintenance and cure because the complaint originally included a count for damages for negligence under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.A. § 688. This question we also answer in the negative.

Philip Santos, the present plaintiff's decedent, was captain of a barge belonging to the defendants and was injured in connection with the operation of the barge. He brought the civil action here in question claiming in the first count damages under the Jones Act and in the second count maintenance and cure. Both Santos and the defendants were citizens of Pennsylvania. The damages alleged were $100, 000 under the Jones Act and $25, 000 for maintenance and cure. The first trial resulted in a mistrial. Santos died before the second trial and the present plaintiff, his administratrix, who is also a citizen of Pennsylvania, was substituted. The case was tried in the district court to a jury. At the close of the plaintiff's case the trial judge dismissed the first count for damages under the Jones Act and submitted the second count for maintenance and cure to the jury which rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $2, 883.50 upon which judgment was entered. The defendants thereupon took the appeal now before us, asserting that the district court was without jurisdiction of the cause of action for maintenance and cure upon which the judgment was entered.

The right to maintenance and cure is an ancient right given to seamen by the maritime law. 2 The district court may,

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therefore, entertain suits for maintenance and cure under the grant of jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime cases given to them by Section 1333 of Title 28 United States Code. 3 But the jurisdiction thus conferred is to be exercised according to the procedure in admiralty in which trial is by the district judge without a jury. 4 This particular section of Title 28 does not confer jurisdiction upon the district courts to entertain civil actions in which common law remedies are sought for the enforcement of rights arising under the maritime law. The section does, however, save 'to suitors in all cases all other remedies to which they are otherwise entitled.' This 'saving to suitors' clause was intended to carry into Title 28 in modern and simplified form the similar provisions of Sec. 24, par. 3, and Sec. 256, par. 3, of the Judicial Code of 1911 'saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it.' 5 The latter clause has been held to authorize any competent court which has jurisdiction of the parties to entertain a civil action at law for the enforcement of a right conferred by the maritime law where the right is of such nature that adequate relief may be given in such an action. 6

It is settled that a seaman's right to damages for a maritime tort and his right to maintenance and cure may each be adequately enforced in a civil action at law and that state courts of general common law jurisdiction may, if they acquire jurisdiction of the parties, entertain such actions for the enforcement of those rights. 7

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It does not necessarily follow, however, that the federal district courts may also entertain such actions for they are not courts of general common law jurisdiction but are strictly limited to the jurisdiction conferred upon them by Congress. 8 Where, however, there is diversity of citizenship the federal district courts are empowered by Section 1332 of Title 28 United States Code to entertain civil actions in the nature of actions at law both for maritime torts and for maintenance and cure if the amount in controversy in each instance exceeds $3, 000. 9 Under Section 1332 the district court in the present case would unquestionably have had jurisdiction of the claim for maintenance and cure in the plaintiff's civil action if the requisite diversity of citizenship and amount in controversy were present. However, even if we assume that in the case before us the amount in controversy did exceed $3, 000, 10 it is clear that there was no diversity of citizenship since both plaintiff and defendants were residents of Pennsylvania. The district court, therefore, did not acquire jurisdiction under Section 1332 and, if jurisdiction exists, we must accordingly look elsewhere for it.

The only other statutory grant of jurisdiction having possible application is Section 1331 of Title 28 United States Code, which confers upon the district courts 'original jurisdiction of all civil actions wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $3, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and arises under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States.' This section implements the provision of Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution that 'The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority'. It is settled, however, that cases arising under the 'laws * * * of the United States' to which the section refers are only such as grow out of the legislation of Congress and involve the validity, construction or application of acts of Congress. 11 They, therefore, do not include cases arising under those general principles of the maritime law 12 which have not been modified by Congressional legislation. This is, of course, not to say that the rules of the maritime law may not be altered by Congress 13 or that if so altered they will not thereby become 'laws * * * of the United States' within the meaning of Section 1331. But the right to maintenance and cure, with which we are

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here concerned, is a purely maritime right which has not been modified or enlarged by an act of Congress. It follows that a case of maintenance and cure does not arise under the laws of the United States within the meaning of Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution and Section 1331 of Title 28 U.S.C.

Nor does the fact that it was the Constitution which adopted and established the rules of the maritime law as part of the law of the United States 14 compel the conclusion that a civil action upon a purely maritime claim is cognizable under that section as one arising under the Constitution within the meaning of Article III, Section 2, and of Section 1331 which implements it, are only such cases as really and substantially involve a controversy as to the effect or construction of the Constitution upon the determination of which the result depends. 15 Purely maritime cases, such as suits for maintenance and cure, obviously do not involve such a controversy. Moreover cases arising under the Constitution, laws and treaties of the United States are by Article III, Section 2, limited to those arising 'in Law and Equity'. 16 They thus exclude 'Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction', as to which cases jurisdiction is separately conferred by the same section of the Constitution. In thus making separate provision for jurisdiction over cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution, laws and treaties on the one hand, and cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction on the other, the Constitution, as Chief Justice Marshall pointed out long ago in American Insurance Co. v. Canter, 1828, 1 Pet. 511, 26 U.S. 511, 545, contemplated distinct classes of cases so that the grant of jurisdiction over one class did not confer jurisdiction over the other. The logic of the great expounder of the Constitution is unanswerable. If admiralty cases were understood to arise under the Constitution or laws of the United States it was wholly unnecessary to mention them separately.

It is true that the merits of a common law action upon a maritime claim, if brought in a state court, are reviewable by the Supreme Court under Section 1257(3) of Title 28 U.S.C. because a federal question is involved. 17 But it does not follow that such an action may be brought in a federal district court under...

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