Salvage awards and dead bodies

When you know something about something, it’s easy to discuss it with a swaggering confidence. Computer techs will talk file compression and ISP addresses, but I’ll hire the guy that compares data strength to water flow. It’s the same with a bank. I’m not a numbers guy so I hire people that talk numbers with an easy and understandable confidence. I’ll bet it’s the same way with your job where it’s not the professorial types that get ahead, it’s probably the folks that simply know how to swing a wrench whether in the office, out in the yard, or on deck. 

Around here, we work hard at unfolding the maritime law, kind of like how your father first explained how an eight-cylinder pushes the family sedan. And let’s be honest — most of the law is like punting along the twisted academic canals of a foreign city where when you’ve seen one building, you’ve seen them all. Pointing out the maritime law’s sea glass and unique shells is what makes for an interesting read which brings me neatly back to my earlier query about dead bodies and salvage awards.

So bet a round of beers the next time you’re at the watering hole because maritime law has provided a salvage award for recovering valuables from a dead body. The case was Broere v. Two Thousand and One Hundred Thirty-Three Dollars and it was decided in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1948. Broere was a fisherman and he set out one morning in a gale. While underway, he saw a dead body and ultimately succeeded in securing the body with a rope and towing it to Bay Shore, N.Y., on Long Island. The tow took a little over an hour and when police arrived they found the money in the decedent’s wallet. And Broere? The court awarded him $400.

Underway and making way.

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About the author

John 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 . His website is

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