Name: Brown Gavalas & Fromm LLP
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Practice Areas: Insurance Coverage Law, Admiralty Law, Aviation Law, International Shipping, International Litigation, Transportation Liability, Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Defense, Products Liability, Environmental, Corporate and General.
Location: New York (New York Co.)
United States admiralty law: A state court hearing an admiralty or maritime case is required to apply the admiralty and maritime law, even if it conflicts with the law of the state, under a doctrine known as the “reverse-Erie doctrine.” The Erie doctrine, derived from Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, directs that federal courts hearing state actions must apply state law. The “reverse-Erie doctrine” directs that state courts hearing admiralty cases must apply federal admiralty law. This distinction is critical in some cases.
For instance, U.S. maritime law recognizes the concept of joint and several liability among tortfeasors, while many states do not. Under joint and several liability, where two or more people create a single injury or loss, all are equally liable, even if they only contributed a small amount. A state court hearing an admiralty case would be required to apply the doctrine of joint and several liability even if state law does not contemplate the concept.