Davis v. Matson Navigation Company, 27201.

Decision Date03 August 1956
Docket NumberNo. 27201.,27201.
Citation143 F. Supp. 537
PartiesJames J. DAVIS, Libelant, v. MATSON NAVIGATION COMPANY, a corporation, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of California

Carroll, Davis & Burdick, San Francisco, Cal., for libelant.

Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, San Francisco, Cal., for respondent.

OLIVER J. CARTER, District Judge.

Libelant is a longshoreman who brought suit in a state court for damages while working on board a vessel owned and operated by respondent. The suit filed in the state court was a complaint in personam in two counts, one based upon negligence and the other upon the unseaworthiness of the vessel. The defendant in the state action removed the case to the admiralty side of this Court, on the ground that the portions of the complaint dealing with unseaworthiness raise an issue within the admiralty jurisdiction of this Court, and that therefore the case is removable under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441(a) which provides in part:

"(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States * * *."

Libelant moves to remand, contending that the case is not removable. It should be noted that this action is not brought under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.A. § 688, because the libelant was not employed by the respondent, and the Jones Act provides for suit by an injured seaman against his employer only. Shelton v. Seas Shipping Co., D.C.E.D.Pa., 75 F.Supp. 195. If the libelant had been able to bring himself within the terms of the Jones Act, his case would not have been removable regardless of whether the complaint contained a count based on common law negligence. Nickerson v. American Dredging Co., D.C.N.J., 129 F.Supp. 602.

Libelant cites cases holding that a suit invoking general maritime law is not removable under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441 (b), as "a claim or right arising under the Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States * * *." But this overlooks the 1948 revision of Section 1441 in which subsection (a) was added, thereby broadening the right to removal. Under the section as revised, the primary test of removability is whether the Federal court would have had original jurisdiction of the action. See Nyberg v. Montgomery Ward & Co., D.C.W.D.Mich., 123 F.Supp. 599, 602-603, where the court said:

"The test as to whether the defendant was entitled to remove the present civil action from the State court to this Federal district court, is whether this court would have had original jurisdiction of the action. 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441(a)."

The interpretation of Section 1441 found in the Nyberg case has been followed in several cases decided since the 1948 revision of Section 1441 which deal with the removability of cases arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act: Korell v. Bymart, Inc., D.C.E.D.N.Y., 101 F.Supp. 185, followed in Asher v. William L. Crow Const. Co., D.C.S.D.N.Y., 118 F.Supp. 495. See also Buckles v. Morristown Kayo Co., D.C.E.D.Tenn., 132 F.Supp. 555. No published decision has been found dealing with the removability, under the revised Section 1441, of suits based on general maritime law; but there is nothing in Section 1441 to indicate that maritime suits should receive different treatment from suits involving other areas of Federal jurisdiction.

It is well settled that this Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the courts of the state, over suits in personam based on general maritime law, such as the case at bar. Madruga v. Superior Court, 346 U.S. 556, 74 S.Ct. 298, 98 L.Ed. 290. Libelant argues that the "saving to suitors" clause of 28 U.S.C.A. § 1333 is an express...

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6 cases
  • Hill v. United Fruit Company
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of California
    • March 14, 1957
    ...20 S. Ct. 824, 44 L.Ed. 921; The Moses Taylor, 1866, 4 Wall. 411, 431, 71 U.S. 411, 431, 18 L.Ed. 397; contra: Davis v. Matson Nav. Co., D.C.N.D.Cal.1956, 143 F.Supp. 537; Crispin Co. v. Lykes Bros. S. S. Co., (dictum) D.C.S.D.Tex.1955, 134 F. Supp. (13) furthermore, the Supreme Court has o......
  • JJ Ryan & Sons, Inc. v. Continental Insurance Company
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • January 28, 1974
    ...Insurance Co., 276 F.Supp. 972 (S.D.N.Y.1967); Crawford v. East Asiatic Co., 156 F.Supp. 571 (N.D.Cal. 1957); Davis v. Matson Navigation Co., 143 F.Supp. 537 (N.D.Cal.1956); Noorollah Bakhshandeh v. Continental Insurance Co., 129 F.Supp. 122 (S.D.N.Y. 1954); Wunderlich v. Netherlands Insura......
  • Eriksen v. Moore Mill & Lumber Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • January 13, 1958
    ...the federal district courts have original jurisdiction by virtue of 28 U.S.C. § 1333. It relies primarily on Davis v. Matson Navigation Co., D.C.Cal.1956, 143 F.Supp. 537. Plaintiffs have moved to remand. They contend that the case is not removable under § 1441(a) because the "saving-to-sui......
  • Crawford v. East Asiatic Company
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • November 25, 1957
    ...§ 1333 set out above. This same contention was made but expressly rejected by this Court in the earlier case of Davis v. Matson Navigation Company, D.C.Cal.1956, 143 F. Supp. 537. Counsel for plaintiffs here has urged the Court to reconsider this earlier ruling, claiming that such a constru......
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