Vol. LV No. 3

Throwing Admiralty Jurisdiction a Lifevest: Preserving Maritime Jurisdiction for Torts That Do Not Involve Vessels

Abstract: This Note examines the current test for establishing admiralty jurisdiction for in personam tort suits and the lower courts’ recent departure from this test. Some lower courts have started to inappropriately read a vessel requirement into the test. This requirement causes a host of problems, including upsetting the spirit of the Extension of Admiralty Jurisdiction Act of 1948, forcing judges to decide issues of fact at the outset of litigation, and inadequately upholding admiralty jurisdiction’s purpose of protecting maritime commerce. The best solution to this problem would be for Congress to pass a new admiralty jurisdiction statute that incorporates the 1948 Act and the Supreme Court’s current test for admiralty jurisdiction, and explicitly states that a vessel’s involvement is not required to establish admiralty jurisdiction.