top of page

Do duck boats & paddle boards have a close enough nexus to 'maritime'?

One of the hallmarks [and peculiarities] of maritime law is the right accorded to ship owners, charterers, operators etc. to limit their liability for various claims. The struggle sometimes is proving that the incident does not lack ‘maritime flavour’.

Recently the US courts had to entertain two such cases - the first was brought by survivors on behalf of drowned renters of paddle boards in Santa Barbara, and the second was an incident which occurred on a duckboat operating on a recreational lake in Missouri.

In the first case, three questions had to be answered to establish a maritime nexus – did it occur on navigable waters, did it have the potential to disrupt maritime commerce, and was it a maritime activity. Looking at third first, Court found that using a stand up paddleboard did not have a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity. Company renting out watersports eq. could not therefore limit their liability to paddleboard's value.

In the second case, 17 died when a duck boat sank. Owners tried establishing admiralty jurisdiction to invoke their right to limit. Court first had to decide if the lake was a navigable waterway. It found no meaningful evidence of trade or transportation activity such as to make the lake a highway for commerce.

0 views0 comments


Recent posts

bottom of page