Miles v. Apex Marine Corporation

PETITIONER: Miles
RESPONDENT: Apex Marine Corporation
LOCATION: The Department of Health and Human Services

DOCKET NO.: 89-1158
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 498 US 19 (1990)
ARGUED: Oct 03, 1990
DECIDED: Nov 06, 1990

ADVOCATES:
Allain F. Hardin - on behalf of the Petitioner
Gerard T. Gelpi - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Miles v. Apex Marine Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 03, 1990 in Miles v. Apex Marine Corporation

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - November 06, 1990 in Miles v. Apex Marine Corporation

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 89-1158, Miles versus Apex Marine Corporation will be announced by Justice O'Connor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

This case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

In the unanimous opinion filed today, we address some questions concerning recovery under general maritime law following the wrongful death of a seaman.

We began by reaffirming the rule announced in Moragne versus State Marine lines that there is a general maritime cause of action for wrongful death.

In defining the scope of recovery, we are guided by the principle that a Federal Court in the exercise of its admiralty powers is not free to expand remedies beyond the well-considered limitations imposed by Congress through statute.

We hold that a beneficiary may not recover loss of society damages in an action for the wrongful death of a seaman.

General maritime law is thus, rendered uniform within the system of recovery for wrongful death that Congress created in the Jones Act and in the Death of the High Seas Act.

We also hold that a seaman's estate may not recover in a general maritime survival action for future earnings loss because of the seaman's death.

This rule is consistent with the Jones Act in which Congress precluded recovery for lost future earnings in survival.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Justice Souter took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.