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

What is your obligation to assist at sea?

Generally speaking, you're duty-bound to lend a hand. If you break down while driving, roadside service plans promise prompt help, no matter the hour. On a stormy sea, the options are less assured. When it comes to rescuing life at sea, two international conventions provide guidance. The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (IMO 1974) states that “the master of a ship at sea, on receiving a signal from any source that a ship or aircraft or survival craft there of is in...

You said what?! Defamation under admiralty law

The success of a defamation claim depends on establishing jurisdiction. Say I’m in the galley slinging insults of the defamatory kind to a gathered crowd – tearing someone down all based on made-up “facts.” Can a defamation claim arise under admiralty law if you’re at sea and someone damages your reputation? Is such a claim actionable in your homeport federal court under an admiralty jurisdiction? It depends. A party seeking to invoke a court’s admiralty and maritime jurisdiction for...

Accidental loss and the bilge pump

Yacht sinking shows why it pays to understand your insurance policy. For the want of a working fuse, a bilge pump failed and a motor yacht sank. The insurer filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit (yes, just like the kind Trump thinks Cruz should file except for the admiralty flavoring) asking the court to decide whether it had to pay out under the insurance policy. The insurer argued it didn't have to pay because there was no "accidental" or "fortuitous" loss and because an exclusion...

Mind local laws when arming a vessel

If you're bound and determined to set sail armed, plan ahead. The expression "a man's home is his castle" is arguably spliced into the rounds of the Fourth and Second Amendments to the Constitution that protect against unlawful search and seizure and the right to bear arms. You can't really say the same in those circumstances where a man's home may alternatively be a tanker or a recreational boat. Carrying a gun aboard a vessel is fraught with treacherous legal waters. Throw a handgun...

Guns on the water

Maritime law is curious on the subject of arming your vessel.   I grew up around guns. My grandparent's place (an admittedly remote farm) was lousy with them; rifles stacked in the kitchen corner, pistol tacked under the kitchen counter, massive gun rack in the living room and uncles that'd stroll in and place their pistols atop a pantry shelf. Statistically speaking, we kids were a decent sample size when it comes to gun accident issues, yet we all operated under the fear of the...

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...

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...