Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., No. 93-1736

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
Writing for the CourtBECKER
Citation40 F.3d 622
Decision Date07 December 1994
Docket NumberNos. 93-1736,No. 93-1736,93-1737,No. 93-1737
Parties, 63 USLW 2304 Lucien B. CALHOUN; Robin L. Calhoun, individually and as Administrators of the Estate of Natalie K. Calhoun, deceased v. YAMAHA MOTOR CORPORATION, U.S.A.; Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.; Palmas Del Mar Company; Palmas Del Mar, Inc.; Palmas Yacht Club, Inc.; Marina De Palmas Yacht Club, Inc.; Maxxam Properties, Inc.; ABC Corporation; XYZ Partnership(s); Candelero Hotel Corporation; Marina De Palmas Shipyard, Inc. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. and Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd., Appellants inLucien B. CALHOUN; Robin L. Calhoun, individually and as Administrators of the Estate of Natalie K. Calhoun, deceased, Appellants inv. YAMAHA MOTOR CORPORATION, U.S.A.; Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.; Palmas Del Mar Company; Palmas Del Mar, Inc.; Palmas Yacht Club, Inc.; Marina De Palmas Yacht Club, Inc.; Maxxam Properties, Inc.; ABC Corporation; XYZ Partnership(s); Candelero Hotel Corporation; Marina De Palmas Shipyard, Inc.

Page 622

40 F.3d 622
1995 A.M.C. 1, 63 USLW 2304
Lucien B. CALHOUN; Robin L. Calhoun, individually and as
Administrators of the Estate of Natalie K. Calhoun, deceased
v.
YAMAHA MOTOR CORPORATION, U.S.A.; Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.;
Palmas Del Mar Company; Palmas Del Mar, Inc.; Palmas Yacht
Club, Inc.; Marina De Palmas Yacht Club, Inc.; Maxxam
Properties, Inc.; ABC Corporation; XYZ Partnership(s);
Candelero Hotel Corporation; Marina De Palmas Shipyard, Inc.
Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. and Yamaha Motor Company,
Ltd., Appellants in No. 93-1736
Lucien B. CALHOUN; Robin L. Calhoun, individually and as
Administrators of the Estate of Natalie K.
Calhoun, deceased, Appellants in No. 93-1737
v.
YAMAHA MOTOR CORPORATION, U.S.A.; Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.;
Palmas Del Mar Company; Palmas Del Mar, Inc.; Palmas Yacht
Club, Inc.; Marina De Palmas Yacht Club, Inc.; Maxxam
Properties, Inc.; ABC Corporation; XYZ Partnership(s);
Candelero Hotel Corporation; Marina De Palmas Shipyard, Inc.
Nos. 93-1736, 93-1737.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued April 13, 1994.
Decided Nov. 2, 1994.
As Amended Nov. 17, 1994.
Sur Petition for Panel Rehearing with Suggestion for
Rehearing In Banc Dec. 7, 1994.

Page 624

Manchel, Lundy & Lessin, William J. Taylor, Thomas A. Masterson, Jr. (argued), Taylor & Taylor, Philadelphia, PA, for appellees/cross-appellants Lucien B. Calhoun and Robin L. Calhoun.

Jonathan Dryer (argued), William R. Hoffman, Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, Philadelphia, PA, for appellants/cross-appellees Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.

Before: BECKER, MANSMANN and SCIRICA, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

BECKER, Circuit Judge.

These consolidated interlocutory cross appeals before us pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(b) (1993) present an interesting and important question of maritime law: whether state wrongful death and survival statutes are displaced by a federal maritime rule of decision concerning the remedies available for the death of a recreational boater occurring within state territorial waters, 1 which are explicitly excluded from the reach of the Death on the High Seas Act, 46 U.S.C.A. Sec. 761 (1975). The remedies at issue are loss of society, loss of support and services, loss of future earnings, and punitive damages.

This case arose when Natalie Calhoun, the twelve year old daughter of plaintiffs Lucien and Robin Calhoun, was killed in a boating accident in the waters off Puerto Rico. Natalie had been riding a "Wavejammer," a type of jet ski manufactured by Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., and its parent company, Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. (collectively referred to as "Yamaha"). Plaintiffs sued Yamaha seeking recovery under the Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival statutes, 42 PA.CONS.STAT.ANN. Secs. 8301-8302 (1982 & Supp.1994). In granting partial summary judgment for Yamaha on the issue of available damages, the district court held that federal maritime law displaced both state remedies, and fashioned a federal common law rule applicable to cases involving the death of a non-seaman in territorial waters under which future earnings and punitive damages are not recoverable but damages for loss of society or support are. Each party sought certification to appeal the portion of the court's ruling that was unfavorable.

Page 625

We do not reach the question whether the district court fashioned the proper federal common law remedy, however, because we conclude that the federal maritime law does not displace state wrongful death or survival statutes in this context. Rather, applying traditional admiralty choice of law principles, we hold that the appropriate rule of decision in this area should be supplied by state law. Our analysis of the Supreme Court's maritime wrongful death jurisprudence reveals that there is no federal substantive policy with which state wrongful death or survival statutes conflict here. In the absence of a clear conflict, state law rules of decision should apply. We will therefore affirm the district court's order denying Yamaha partial summary judgment, reverse the order granting Yamaha partial summary judgment, and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. On remand, the district court will have to determine whether the plaintiffs' claims are governed by the laws of Pennsylvania or of Puerto Rico, and how the wrongful death and survival laws of those Commonwealths bear upon plaintiffs' damages.

I. FACTS, PROCEDURAL HISTORY, AND SCOPE OF THE INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL

On July 6, 1989, while vacationing at Palmas Del Mar Resort, Humacao, Puerto Rico, Natalie Calhoun rented a Yamaha "Wavejammer." While she was riding the "Wavejammer," Natalie slammed into a vessel anchored in the waters off the hotel frontage and was killed. At the time of her death, Natalie was twelve years old. Her parents, Lucien and Robin Calhoun, individually and in their capacities as administrators for the estate of their daughter, sued Yamaha in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking recovery under the Pennsylvania wrongful death statute, 42 PA.CONS.STAT.ANN. Sec. 8301 (1982 & Supp.1994), and the Pennsylvania survival statute, 42 PA.CONS.STAT.ANN. Sec. 8302 (1982). Their complaint invoked federal jurisdiction both on the basis of diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1332 (West 1993), 2 and admiralty, 28 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1333 (West 1993). The theories of recovery alleged in the complaint included negligence, strict liability, and breach of the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for purpose. The complaint sought damages for lost future earnings, loss of society, loss of support and services, and funeral expenses. It also requested punitive damages.

On November 27, 1991, Yamaha moved for partial summary judgment asserting that the damages recoverable in the action, if any, were governed by the federal admiralty law, and that under that law the plaintiffs were not entitled to lost future wages, loss of society, loss of support and services, or punitive damages. 3 In its decision on the motion, the district court: (1) agreed with Yamaha that the federal common law of admiralty governed the Calhouns' wrongful death and survival actions; (2) held that the general maritime wrongful death cause of action recognized in Moragne v. States Marine Lines, Inc., 398 U.S. 375, 90 S.Ct. 1772, 26 L.Ed.2d 339 (1970), displaced the Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival statutes and hence that any available remedy was a function of federal common law; and (3) held that under this federal common law remedy, lost future wages and punitive damages could not be awarded but loss of society and loss of support and services could be. The court therefore granted Yamaha's motion for summary judgment on the loss of future earnings and punitive damages, and denied its motion respecting the claims for loss of society and loss of support and services.

Yamaha moved the district court to certify for immediate interlocutory appeal, 28 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1292(b) (West 1993), the question whether the plaintiffs should be able to recover damages for the loss of Natalie's society. Believing that the question was extremely close, the district court granted the

Page 626

motion and certified the issue to this court. 4 Plaintiffs then requested that the district court amend its certification order to add the question whether future earnings and punitive damages were recoverable. The district court agreed, and certified the following question to this Court:

The questions of law certified to the Court of Appeals are whether, pursuant to [a federal] maritime cause of action, plaintiffs may seek to recover (1) damages for the loss of the society of their deceased minor child, (2) damages for the loss of their child's future earnings, and (3) punitive damages.

Both parties petitioned for permission to appeal pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 5(a). We granted both petitions and consolidated the appeals. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1292(b) (West 1993).

The district court's statement in the certification order is limited to the question of what damages are available under a federal maritime cause of action. On appeal, however, the parties have also (properly) briefed the question whether federal maritime law displaced state wrongful death and survival statutes. As will appear, the answer to the certified question depends in large part on the resolution of the displacement question. We presume that the district court intended this important question of displacement to be considered. But even if such were not the case, it would not affect our jurisdiction.

As provided in section 1292(b), we have before us an appeal from the challenged order, not just the certified question. Section 1292(b) requires not that we answer the certified question, but that we decide an appeal from an interlocutory order. We therefore are not bound by the district court's formulation of the question, and may address any issue that is necessary to decide the appeal before us. See In re School Asbestos Litigation, 789 F.2d 996 (3d Cir.1986). There, the district court certified for appeal an order certifying a compulsory class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1)(A) and (b)(1)(B), but after taking jurisdiction, we also reviewed the court's denial of certification under Rule 23(b)(3). Id. at 1002; see also Johnson v. Alldredge, 488 F.2d 820, 822-23 (3d Cir.1973) (stating that appeals court is not bound by district court's statement of the issue on section 1292(b) appeal), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 882, 95 S.Ct. 148, 42 L.Ed.2d 122 (1974); 9 JAMES W. MOORE ET AL., MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE p 110.25, at 300 (2d ed. 1994) ("[I]t is the order that is appealable, and not the controlling question identified by the district court. Thus, the court of appeals may address any issue necessary to decide the case before it."...

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  • Stier v. Reading & Bates Corp., No. 96-1165
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • April 8, 1999
    ...preemption analysis is quite similar, if not identical, to general federal preemption analysis. See Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., 40 F.3d 622, 629 (3 rd Cir.1994), aff'd, 516 U.S. at 199, 116 S.Ct. 619. A federal law may expressly or impliedly preempt state law. See Freightliner Corp. v. M......
  • Yamaha Motor Corp. v. Calhoun, 941387
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 9, 1996
    ...sought to achieve, however, the Court preserves the application of state statutes to deaths within territorial waters. Pp. 625-628. 40 F.3d 622 (C.A.3 1994), affirmed. GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. James W. Bartlett, III, Baltimore, MD, for petitioners. Paul A. ......
  • Fire Ins. Exch. v. Oltmanns, No. 20160304
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • February 28, 2018
    ...attribute to other counsel or the court improper motives, purpose, or conduct."1 See, e.g. , Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. , 40 F.3d 622, 624 (3d Cir. 1994) (noting that a "Wavejammer" is "a type of jet ski manufactured by Yamaha Motor Corporation"); 4 Matthews Municipal Ordinances ......
  • Garofalo v. Princess Cruises, Inc., No. B127126.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 29, 2000
    ...medical expenses, lost earnings (both past and future), and funeral expenses." (Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. (3d Cir. 1994) 40 F.3d 622, 637, affd. (1996) 516 U.S. 199, 116 S.Ct. 619, 133 L.Ed.2d In Mobil Oil Corp. v. Higginbotham, supra, 436 U.S. 618, 98 S.Ct. 2010, the Court held......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
60 cases
  • Stier v. Reading & Bates Corp., No. 96-1165
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • April 8, 1999
    ...preemption analysis is quite similar, if not identical, to general federal preemption analysis. See Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., 40 F.3d 622, 629 (3 rd Cir.1994), aff'd, 516 U.S. at 199, 116 S.Ct. 619. A federal law may expressly or impliedly preempt state law. See Freightliner Corp. v. M......
  • Yamaha Motor Corp. v. Calhoun, 941387
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 9, 1996
    ...sought to achieve, however, the Court preserves the application of state statutes to deaths within territorial waters. Pp. 625-628. 40 F.3d 622 (C.A.3 1994), affirmed. GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. James W. Bartlett, III, Baltimore, MD, for petitioners. Paul A. ......
  • Fire Ins. Exch. v. Oltmanns, No. 20160304
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • February 28, 2018
    ...attribute to other counsel or the court improper motives, purpose, or conduct."1 See, e.g. , Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. , 40 F.3d 622, 624 (3d Cir. 1994) (noting that a "Wavejammer" is "a type of jet ski manufactured by Yamaha Motor Corporation"); 4 Matthews Municipal Ordinances ......
  • Garofalo v. Princess Cruises, Inc., No. B127126.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 29, 2000
    ...medical expenses, lost earnings (both past and future), and funeral expenses." (Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. (3d Cir. 1994) 40 F.3d 622, 637, affd. (1996) 516 U.S. 199, 116 S.Ct. 619, 133 L.Ed.2d In Mobil Oil Corp. v. Higginbotham, supra, 436 U.S. 618, 98 S.Ct. 2010, the Court held......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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