Anything that happens on or near a body of navigable water is liable to call forth the admiralty jurisdiction of the federal courts and the application of the national maritime law. The practice of admiralty and maritime law is somewhat specialized, but a lawyer who handles international transactions of any sort (or who practices near an ocean, river, or lake) is likely to run into admiralty problems at some point.
The Constitution established admiralty and maritime law as a separate subject by explicitly vesting the federal courts with full (but not exclusive) power over all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. Thus an understanding of the subject requires some historical inquiries and a study of those aspects of constitutional law affecting the division of power between the national and state governments. But the focus of the course is predominantly on modern law, and the course materials consist primarily of recent judicial decisions and oft- litigated statutes. Indeed, the emphasis on the present-day problems of maritime lawyers and judges is reflected in current litigation.
The course examines legal issues presented by the carriage of goods by sea, maritime personal injuries (including injuries to seamen covered by the Jones Act, injuries to other maritime workers covered by the Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, and injuries to such "non-seafarers" as cruise line passengers and recreational boaters), marine insurance, major maritime accidents (including collisions between vessels, the subsequent salvage of vessels and other property, and the shipowner's right to limit liability), and vessel financing. Much of this law is in a state of flux, and there will be a heavy emphasis on discussing how the law should develop in the future.
The instructor is currently involved in several maritime law projects in the international context. This involvement will have its most obvious impact on the course schedule. The class is scheduled to meet more often each week than is required for a three-credit course, but will not meet some weeks during the semester to enable the instructor to fulfill out-of-town commitments in conjunction with these projects. By the end of the semester, the class will have met the same amount of time as any other three-credit course.
There are no prerequisites.