Krause v Republic Aviation Corporation

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Date12 July 1961
United States, District Court, Eastern District, New York.
Republic Aviation Corporation et Al.

Jurisdiction — Territorial — Over national waters — Applicability of federal or state law to accident occurring five nautical miles off the Louisiana shore — The law of the United States of America.

State territory — Parts of — Territorial waters — Jurisdiction in maritime belt — Extent of territorial jurisdiction of state of United States of America — Application of state statute to accident occurring beyond three-mile limit — Federal Death on the High Seas Act — The law of the United States of America.

The Facts.—This was a suit in admiralty commenced by libel against a French manufacturer and an American owner of a helicopter leased to the employer of the libellant's decedent, who died when the helicopter crashed into the Gulf of Mexico about five nautical miles off the coast of Louisiana. The libellant, as administrator, brought the action under the federal Death on the High Seas Act (41 Stat. 537 (1920), 46 U.S.C. § 761 (1958)), which provides:

“Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas beyond a marine league from the shore of any State, or the District of Columbia, or the Territories or dependencies of the United States, the personal representative of the decedent may maintain a suit for damages in the district courts of the United States, in admiralty, for the exclusive benefit of the decedent's wife, husband, parent, child, or dependent relative against the vessel, person, or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued.”

The respondent contended that the boundary of Louisiana extended three marine leagues into the Gulf of Mexico (nine nautical miles) and that consequently the federal Act was inapplicable. In support of this contention and of its related argument that the Louisiana wrongful-death statute applied, the respondent referred to Section 7 of the Act (41 Stat. 538 (1920), 46 U.S.C. § 767 (1958)), which provides:

“The provisions of any State statute giving or regulating rights of action or remedies for death shall not be affected by this chapter. Nor shall this chapter apply to the Great Lakes or to any waters within the territorial limits of any State, or to any navigable waters in the Panama Canal Zone.”

Other contentions of the respondent are not here relevant. On the point discussed,

Held: that the respondent's objections must be...

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