57 F.3d 771 (9th Cir. 1995), 93-17196, Seven Resorts, Inc. v. Cantlen

Docket Nº:93-17196.
Citation:57 F.3d 771
Party Name:SEVEN RESORTS, INC., dba Bridge Bay Resort, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. James Arthur CANTLEN; Delta Upsilon, an unincorporated fraternal organization; Stacey Lynn Epping, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:June 12, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 771

57 F.3d 771 (9th Cir. 1995)

SEVEN RESORTS, INC., dba Bridge Bay Resort, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

James Arthur CANTLEN; Delta Upsilon, an unincorporated

fraternal organization; Stacey Lynn Epping,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 93-17196.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 12, 1995

Argued and Submitted April 14, 1995.

James D. Boughey and Ginger M. English, Boughey, Garvie & Bushner, San Francisco, CA, for the plaintiff-appellant.

Larry L. Hill and J. Michael Favor, Barr, Sinclair, & Hill, Redding, CA, for defendant-appellee James Arthur Cantlen.

G. Michael German, Law Offices of G. Michael German, San Francisco, CA, for the defendant-appellee Stacey Lynn Epping.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

Before: FLOYD R. GIBSON, [*] HUG, and GOODWIN, Circuit Judges.

FLOYD R. GIBSON, Senior Circuit Judge.

Appellant Seven Resorts, Inc., a Nevada corporation, appeals the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of its petition in admiralty for indemnification pursuant to a rental contract and limitation of liability under 46 U.S.C. Sec. 183 (1988). We have jurisdiction over this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291 (1988), and we affirm.

Page 772

I. FACTS

On May 7, 1992, Appellee James Cantlen, a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, rented a houseboat on Lake Shasta from Appellant Seven Resorts. Cantlen signed a rental contract whereby he agreed to be responsible for the safe operation of the houseboat and to hold Seven Resorts harmless from any liability arising out of his rental of the boat. Later that afternoon on Lake Shasta, Cantlen attempted to back the boat up while its engines were running. Unfortunately, Appellee Stacey Epping was swimming behind the boat. As the boat reversed, the propeller blades struck Epping, causing her serious injury.

On January 13, 1993, Epping filed suit in Shasta County Superior Court against Seven Resorts and James Cantlen, among others. On August 2, 1993, Seven Resorts filed an amended complaint in admiralty in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, seeking indemnification under the rental contract or a limitation of liability under the Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. Sec. 183. 1 The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court explained that it lacked admiralty jurisdiction over the incident because it occurred on nonnavigable waters, and that it lacked jurisdiction under the Limitation of Liability Act because jurisdiction under that statute is coextensive with that of admiralty jurisdiction. Seven Resorts appeals, claiming jurisdiction under the Limitation of Liability Act, admiralty jurisdiction, or diversity of citizenship.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction Under the Limited Liability Act

The Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. Sec. 183, ("the Act") provides a procedure in admiralty whereby vessel owners can limit their liability for maritime damages to the value of the vessel. Seven Resorts claims that the Act independently confers jurisdiction over its claim. The Supreme Court has expressly left this question unanswered, Sisson v. Ruby, 497 U.S. 358, 359 n. 1, 110 S.Ct. 2892, 2894 n. 1, 111 L.Ed.2d 292 (1990), but all five federal appellate courts that have addressed this issue have rejected Seven Resorts' argument. See David Wright Charter Service v. Wright, 925 F.2d 783, 785 (4th Cir.1991); Guillory v. Outboard Motor Corp., 956 F.2d 114, 115 (5th Cir.1992); Complaint of Sisson, 867 F.2d 341, 350 (7th Cir.1989), rev'd on other grounds, 497 U.S. 358, 110 S.Ct. 2892, 111 L.Ed.2d 292 (1990); Three Buoys Houseboat Vacations U.S.A. Ltd. v. Morts, 921 F.2d 775, 780 (8th Cir.1990), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 898, 112 S.Ct. 272, 116 L.Ed.2d 224 (1991); Lewis Charters, Inc. v. Huckins Yacht Corp., 871 F.2d 1046, 1052-54 (11th Cir.1989). The Ninth Circuit has not yet addressed...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP