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Admiralty Law

Boswell v. Bludworth Bond Shipyard, Inc., 854 F. Supp. 461 (S.D. Tex. 1994). (Shipowner Liability; Step-Child Recovery)
The general rule that a shipowner cannot be held liable for an accident which occurs while the ship is being moved by agents of the shipyard does not apply if the ship’s captain remains on board and participates in the decision-making process of the maneuver that causes the accident. Because the Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA) allows for step-children to recover, such recovery is also permissible under a wrongful death action brought under general maritime law. The fact that Texas law prohibits such recovery is not relevant because the Texas Wrongful Death Statute and DOSHA differ in scope.

In re Loyd W. Richarson Constr. Co., 850 F. Supp. 555 (S.D. Tex. 1993). (Motion for Summary Judgment; Written Notice)
A letter will not constitute “written notice of a claim” for the purposes of summary judgment if it merely seeks information from a party to determine what occurred. Factors to be considered are whether the letter: references a judgment or settlement of claims; discusses depositions or settlement negotiations; instructs the party to refer the matter to his legal representative; specifically blames the party for the damage at issue; or states the possible legal action against the party.

Wright v. P.J. St. Marine, Inc., Civ. A. No. G-85-198, 1989 WL 211485 (S.D. Tex. 1989). (Negligence; Discretionary Function Doctrine)
The Coast Guard cannot “worsen the condition" of a vessel in its rescue attempt if the vessel is taking on water and will sink if left alone. Therefore, it cannot be liable for damage caused by mere negligence in any action the Coast Guard takes in the rescue. The Discretionary Function Doctrine bars suits against the Coast Guard based on the Coast Guard's decisions regarding: what vessels to dispatch, the manner in which those vessels were equipped; the decision not to dispatch helicopters; the lack of or unavailability of other equipment; the established search and rescue procedures at the time or the type of training provided to crews.