Admiralty Law Pathfinder
“Admiralty” is a complex and comprehensive body of law. It has been defined in part as “the rules governing contract, tort, and workers’-compensation claims arising out of commerce on or over navigable water.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 53 (9th ed. 2009). As this definition implies, many seemingly routine legal claims may be subject to admiralty jurisdiction. The admiralty jurisdiction of American courts is specifically dealt with in Article III the United States Constitution. The Constitution grants subject matter jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime cases to the federal judiciary. U. S. CONST. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. Yet despite the straightforward language of the Constitution, jurisdictional issues in admiralty cases can still prove to be very complex. For example, in the United States Code, 28 U.S.C. § 1333 states that the federal districts courts will have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the individual states, over any civil case of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1) (2006). But this section of the Code also includes the “saving to suitors” clause, allowing litigants to pursue “all other remedies to which they are otherwise entitled.” Id. In the right circumstances, therefore, the “savings to suitors” clause allows a party to “choose either a federal or state forum by providing that state courts may exercise concurrent jurisdiction over maritime claims.” Iwag v. Geisel Compania Maritima, S.A., 882 F.Supp. 597, 603 (S.D.Tex. 1995). Careful research is required in order to clearly understand what claims in any cause of action are potentially Admiralty matters, and what courts may properly exercise jurisdiction over them.
The full reach of admiralty jurisdiction is just one of the many issues and problems legal researchers and practitioners must be able to recognize and thoroughly understand when dealing with potential admiralty claims. This Pathfinder for researching issues in Admiralty Law is meant to be a study supplement for Villanova Law School students, and features resources available through the Villanova University School of Law’s Pulling Law Library. It is by no means comprehensive, but it does provide a point of departure for law students and other legal professionals conducting research into modern American admiralty law. As with all legal research, continue your efforts until you find you have a clear understanding of the issues at hand and a sufficient quantity of the proper authority to support your arguments. Always remember to update your selected authorities with citation services such as Shepard’s or KeyCite. Consult a Reference Librarian for additional assistance as necessary.
Villanova Law School students and faculty will have access to the electronic resources mentioned below. Some of the listed resources are freely available on the Web, while others may require a password to access them if the researcher is working in a location other than Villanova Law School. Lexis and Westlaw require a password-protected user account. Resources with a directly corresponding database in Westlaw have their Westlaw database identifier noted in Bold. If not otherwise noted, use the Library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) to find the location of print resources. If you need assistance with locating any materials or with accessing any of the Library’s electronic databases, consult a Reference Librarian.
Statutes, Regulations, and Court Rules: The United States Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate matters concerning interstate and international commerce. U. S. CONST. art. 1, § 8, cl. 3. Congress also has the power to define and punish crimes committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations. U. S. CONST. art. 1, § 8, cl. 10. Links shown below are to suggested online resources. Many of these resources may also be found in Lexis or Westlaw.
The Constitution of the United States
United States Code : See also United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) (USCA); United States Code Service (U.S.C.S).
Title 28: Judiciary and Judicial Procedure
Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters
Title 46: Shipping (See also Title 46 Appendix)
Code of Federal Regulations:
Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters
Title 46: Shipping
Use the CFR List of Sections Affected (LSA) and the Federal Register (published daily) to research the latest changes to federal regulations.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 9(h): Elect for admiralty.
Rule 14(c): Third-party practice.
Rule 38(e): Jury trials on admiralty claims.
Rule 82: Application of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391-1392.
SUPPLEMENTAL RULES FOR CERTAIN ADMIRALTY AND MARITIME CLAIMS.
Legislative Histories: Legislative history material may be useful in interpreting relevant statutes and regulations regarding admiralty matters. Besides the databases noted below, and the resources available in Lexis and WestLaw, there are numerous print resources for researching this material available in the Library. Ask a Reference Librarian for assistance in this field.
: Legislative Information on the Internet
United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN)
(Lower Level; Second Floor KF48 .W47)
Case Law: American admiralty and maritime law is largely found in the decisions of the federal courts, and the courts continue to develop the law in areas where Congress has not seen fit to legislate.
United States Supreme Court Opinions:
Supreme Court of the United States online
United States Reports
West’s Supreme Court Reporter
United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition
United States Law Week (Hornbook Reserve KF175 .US1)
United States Law Week online:
West’s Federal Practice Digest 4th and the West Reporter System (Federal Cases)
West Digest System Topic number 16, ADMIRALTY
West’s Federal Rules Decisions (FRD)
Court websites, e.g.:
Third Judicial Circuit
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Other court websites are available on the World Wide Web.
Westlaw Federal Cases Databases:
All U.S. Supreme Court cases: (SCT)
All Federal cases: (ALLFEDS)
Lexis Federal Cases Databases:
U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Lawyers’ Edition
Federal Court Cases, Combined
American Law Reports: Each volume of American Law Reports (A.L.R.) and American Law Reports Federal (A.L.R. Fed.) feature several annotations (or articles) that focus closely on a specific legal issue. The annotations are copiously supported by reference to case authority. Annotations on admiralty law and related issues may be found using the A.L.R. indexes. The A.L.R. volumes and indexes are located on the Library’s Second Floor. American Law Reports are also available on Westlaw (ALR) and Lexis.
Practice Manuals and Guides: Practice manuals and guides may be used to aid the researcher’s understanding of the practical application of admiralty statutes, regulations, and case law. Use the Library’s OPAC to find additional practice manuals and guides, or consult a Reference Librarian:
Federal Practice and Procedure (Reserve KF8754 .W93) (FPP)
Moore’s Federal Practice (Reserve KF8716.5 .M782 1997, see volume 29)
Practice Forms: Model legal forms found in various publications can be an invaluable guide to legal professionals when drafting motions, pleadings, contracts for sales or services, etc. Model form publications are usually multivolume sets. Use the set’s Index volume(s) to find material relevant to admiralty issues. Search-terms that may prove useful include admiralty and maritime; navigable waters; ships; ships and shipping; seamen, and so on. Some suggested form publications are listed below. Check the Library’s OPAC for more such titles:
West’s Legal Forms (Form Books KF170 .W4)
American Jurisprudence Legal Forms 2d (Form Books KF170 .A542)
American Jurisprudence Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated
(Form Books KF8836 A.44)
Federal Procedural Forms, Lawyers Edition (Form Books KF8836 .F31)
West’s Federal Forms (Form Books KF8836 .W52)
Foreign Law and International Conventions: Foreign law and international conventions may be relevant to the analysis of a particular admiralty case. Sources of foreign and international law may be found at:
Treaties in Force
(Third Floor KZ235 .G85)
Treaties in Force
United Nations Law Collection
United Nations Treaty Collection
EDMUND JAN OSMANCZYK, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS (2003) (Reference Desk KZ4968 .O84 2003)
Foreign Law Guide
Use legal dictionaries to define unfamiliar legal terms.
Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) (Reserve KF156 .B53 2009) (BLACKS)
Legal encyclopedias provide a concise introduction to the full scope of the law, and provide numerous citations to cases and scholarly legal works that support their discussions of various issues. Consult the indexes of the following resources for their admiralty and maritime law sections, and for related matters in particular cases:
American Jurisprudence 2d (AMJUR) (Second Floor KF154 .A42)
Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) (Second Floor KF154 .C56)
Treatises: Some suggested treatises on admiralty law available in the Villanova University School of Law Library:
FRANK L. MARAIST & THOMAS C. GALLIGAN, JR., ADMIRALTY IN A NUTSHELL (2005) (Hornbook Reserve KF1105 .M34 2005)
From West’s “Nutshell” series, a series of concise introductions to selected legal topics.
LOUIS B. SOHN & KRISTEN GUSTAFSON, THE LAW OF THE SEA IN A NUTSHELL (1984) (Hornbook Reserve JX4422 .U5So25 1984).
“Nutshell” series; see above description.
THOMAS J. SCHOENBAUM, ADMIRALTY AND MARITIME LAW (4th ed. 2004) (Hornbook Reserve KF1104 .S36 2004)
From West’s “Hornbook” series, a series of brief but comprehensive treatises on selected legal topics. Also available from West is ADMIRALTY AND MARITIME LAW 4th (2003) (Practitioner Treatise Series) by Thomas J. Schoenbaum, a multivolume set updated with pocket parts.
ELIJAH E. JHIRAD & ALEXANDER SANN, ET AL., BENEDICT ON ADMIRALTY (7th ed. 1958) (Second Floor KF1104 .B437 1958)
A very comprehensive, multivolume treatise on admiralty and maritime law and practice; this regularly updated treatise features information ranging from the historic origins of Admiralty Law to analysis of the latest developments in the field.
ADMIRALTY LAW (2006) (Second Floor KF1105 .A35 2006)
Published by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute; provides a concise guide to admiralty law and practice.
To find further treatises on Admiralty Law, use the Law Library’s (or another library’s) online public access catalog (OPAC), or use the WORLDCAT database available to Villanova students through Falvey Library, the main campus library.
Law Reviews and Journals: Research law reviews and journals using legal periodical indexes such as:
Current Law Index (Indexes)
Index to Legal Periodicals (Indexes) (ILP)
Search periodicals online with:
LegalTrac (also known as InfoTrac)
US Law Reviews and Journals Combined
Journals and Law Reviews (JLR)
Some admiralty and maritime law journals available in print at Villanova:
Tulane Maritime Law Journal (Periodicals K13 .A67)
Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce (Periodicals K10 .O8482)
University of San Francisco Maritime Law Journal
(Periodicals K25 .N737)
Check the Library’s OPAC for more print journals.
Online Resources: A number of useful resources on admiralty law are freely available on the Internet. A few such sources are listed below; others may be found using popular Internet search engines, such as Google or Ask:
Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute (LLI):
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
, Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims:
Admiralty and Maritime Law Guide
Shipping Industry News: General news sources may be searched for shipping news and stories related to admiralty law. The following websites are freely available on the web:
World Wide Shipper
Fairplay International Shipping Weekly
Duluth Shipping News
Government Agencies and International Organizations Online: Many government agencies concerned with shipping and maritime matters provide information freely online. International organizations may also provide such resources. A selection follows:
U.S. Department of Transportation: Maritime Administration
United States Coast Guard
Homeport: U.S. Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
International Maritime Organization
Lexis and Westlaw: Students and practitioners who have password access to Westlaw and Lexis may use the resources provided by these legal information systems. Subscribers to Lexis and Westlaw can customize their access to provide a shortcut to admiralty and maritime databases in either system. See the Tab control features used by the respective system for instruction on how to add or remove such Tabs.
While the Tab shortcut features in Lexis and Westlaw are very helpful, you may proceed without them if you prefer. With whatever databases you use, remember to examine the “Scope” button in Westlaw or the “Source Description” button in Lexis to learn what a particular database contains, and tips on how to efficiently access that information. Some suggested databases (with their database identifier code) for admiralty law research in Westlaw are:
American Maritime Cases (AMC)
Admiralty and Maritime Law (ADMMARL)
Federal Maritime Law-Rules (FMRT-RULES)
West’s Federal Forms-Admiralty and Maritime (FEDFORMS-MRT)
United States Code Annotated (USCA)
Federal Maritime Law-U.S. Code Annotated (FMRT-USCA)
Federal Maritime Law-Code of Federal Regulations (FMRT-CFR)
Federal Maritime Law-Federal Register (FMRT-FR)
Maritime Law-Law Reviews, Texts and Bar Journals (MRT-TP)
Admiralty and Maritime Specialist Multibase (MRT-SPECIALIST)
Some suggested databases for admiralty law research in Lexis are:
Admiralty Cases, Federal and State
USCS-Admiralty and Maritime-Titles 9, 19, 33, and 46
USCS-Supplemental Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims
Moore’s Federal Practice
Federal Register and CFR-Maritime Notices and Documents
Benedict on Admiralty
The New York Times-Admiralty Law Stories