Mobil Oil Corporation v. Higginbotham

PETITIONER: Mobil Oil Corporation
RESPONDENT: Higginbotham
LOCATION: Pawn Shop

DOCKET NO.: 76-1726
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 436 US 618 (1978)
ARGUED: Jan 10, 1978 / Jan 11, 1978
DECIDED: Jun 05, 1978

ADVOCATES:
Carl J. Schumacher, Jr. - for petitioner
Jack C. Benjamin - for respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Mobil Oil Corporation v. Higginbotham

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 10, 1978 in Mobil Oil Corporation v. Higginbotham
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 1978 in Mobil Oil Corporation v. Higginbotham

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 05, 1978 in Mobil Oil Corporation v. Higginbotham

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the Court in number 76-1726, Mobile Oil Corporation against Hagginbotham will be announced by Mr. Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

This is a wrongful death case arising out of a fatal accident on the high seas.

The question is whether damages may be recovered for loss of society as well as pecuniary loss.

Congress has enacted a statute which only authorizes the recovery of pecuniary damages when the death occurs more than three miles from shore.

Inside the three-mile limit, where the statue does not apply, this Court has held, the damages for loss of society can also be recovered.

In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, held at the same rule should be applied on a high seas because we are persuaded that the courts must apply the standard selected by Congress.

We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Blackmun has joined.

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

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Stevens.