John K. FulweilerJohn K. Fulweiler
John K. Fulweiler is a licensed mariner and experienced admiralty attorney. He represents individuals and companies throughout the East and Gulf Coasts and has recently taken command of his own maritime law firm. He enjoys navigating the choppy waters of the maritime law, but readily admits to missing life on the water. He can be reached at john@fulweilerlaw.com . His website is www.saltwaterlaw.com.

Blog Activity

Coast Guard takes a selfie

Was the Coast Guard following policy when it assisted a sailboat in Annapolis, Md.? Good fences may make good neighbors, but they don’t float real well. Case in point is the recent WorkBoat.com video showing the Coasties doing something with a sailboat. (Video: Coast Guard boat crew helps sinking sailors near Annapolis, Md.) From what I saw, the Coasties weren’t doing much more than trampling the fences of private enterprise. Pull the folks off (if they want to go), stand down and...

Offshore whistleblower protection?

Leave it to a former truck driver to appreciate the importance of whistleblower protection. Leave it to a former truck driver to appreciate the importance of whistleblower protection. That is, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., (a Californian, but raised in Massachusetts) just introduced a bill (H.R. 2824) aimed at extending whistleblower protections to certain employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf. Apparently, there's no such federal protection in place. Why do I like...

The power behind a signature

Like a vessel’s wake, a signature is evidence of your presence. In most commercial scenarios, a signature acts as an identifying mark as well as proof of consent to a document’s terms. Your signature carries legal weight.  Like a vessel's wake, a signature is evidence of your presence. In most commercial scenarios, a signature acts as an identifying mark as well as proof of consent to a document's terms. Your signature carries legal weight. When you sign a...

No admiralty jurisdiction in shallow water injury

Defense attorneys that try to protect their client’s deep pockets will sometimes “remove” a case from state to federal court. Still, you need a jurisdictional basis to be in federal court before you can pull the removal lever. Defense attorneys that try to protect an insurer’s deep pockets (well, their client’s deep pockets) will sometimes “remove” a case from state to federal court.  Removal is a legal mechanism that flips a plaintiff’s lawsuit out of state court and into...

Checking arbitration’s seaworthiness

Arbitration is an option.  Arbitration, mediation and litigation sound like they hail from the same family, but they’re very different. Arbitration is a private forum that the parties have agreed to use to decide a dispute. An arbitrator’s decision is typically binding. Overturning an arbitration award is usually very difficult. A party considering arbitration should realize that an arbitration award is usually final. Generally, in arbitration the evidentiary...

Of Pirates, NATO and a deceased owner

A Taiwanese citizen sued the U.S.A. for killing her husband and sinking his fishing vessel in connection with a NATO counter-piracy initiative.A Taiwanese citizen sued the U.S.A. for killing her husband and sinking his fishing vessel in connection with a NATO counter-piracy initiative. That is, her husband was a hostage aboard his vessel which had been overrun by pirates when in the midst of an engagement with NATO forces he was killed.  %Mid-Page-Ad% The trial court dismissed the...

Of hashish, customs and a ship captain

A U.S. captain used the legal system to wrest his vengeance on a Greek ship owner.  Here's a look at a wacky case that took place over 25 years ago. Even today, $700,000 is serious money. But it was probably more so in 1978 when an owner purchased a new Hinkley sailing vessel for an around the world cruise. Long story short, the vessel owner, who was Greek, hired a new American captain. Not long thereafter, the owner flew back to U.S. (with his girlfriend, the court can't resist...

Ship owner not immune from its medical staff

No doubt there's worried boardroom talk following the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision declining to apply the Barbetta rule. No doubt that companies are worried following the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision declining to apply what's referred to as the Barbetta rule. This rule has been used to shield ship owners from liability over acts by the ship's medical staff. Briefly, in Franza v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., a passenger aboard a cruise ship suffered a head injury and...

Stamps, coins and contract terms

A 2010 legal decision concerning coin and stamp collecting highlights the importance of understanding contractual forum termsA 2010 legal decision concerning coin and stamp collecting highlights the importance of understanding contractual forum terms. An older man signed a contract and assigned his coin and stamp collection to a company apparently for the purpose of selling it. A dispute arose, and the man filed suit. The defendants asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit based on a...

Ebola: Liability under the admiralty law?

Let's say a crewmember suffers a potential Ebola exposure while working and he's quarantined and thereafter found not to have the disease. Does a claim exist?You've got to work to separate the flotsam from the jetsam when it comes to the news media and no more so than their reporting on Ebola. Having said that, I don't want to add to the speculation, but I do want to briefly address liability in the context of crew diseases. Let's say a crewmember suffers a potential Ebola exposure while...