Tuesday, August 6, 2013



The "Authoritative Literature Section"  is an adjunct to our "Admiralty Law Section"  in which we attempt to help the legal researcher,  or compliance surveyor, or compliance responsible ship's officer, with finding, interpretation, and application of  marine regulations, codes, standards, and authoritative literature.

  Our AUTHORITATIVE LITERATURE SECTION has been open "under construction" since our opening day in January of 2012. It has rarely drawn more than 1 visitor a day compared to about a dozen visitors to the ADMIRALTY LAW SECTION. In the Admiralty Law Section we have a brief explanation of what admiralty law is and how it differs from "maritime law", and numerous law book reviews with the usual Amazon book icon link for purchase, or more information. We also have links in the Admiralty Law Section to a variety of sites useful in admiralty and maritime legal research as well as a link to WESTLAW so that the legal researcher may shift from our site to their on going WESTLAW project without constantly logging in and out of their WESTLAW account. By contrast the Authoritative Literature section has links to searchable versions of the Code of Federal Regulations, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as well as our own explanations of what makes a book authoritative on admiralty matters in the eyes of the court. Often times the admiralty lawyer must present as much technical or engineering data , liberally laced with "expert opinion " as he has to present legal argument. Once you get into the realm of expert opinion it often appears that things boil down to a shouting match between old salts called to the stand, or worse assorted Ph.Ds. It need not be that way. Enter the American Admiralty Bureau:


 For over twenty years the American Admiralty Bureau fought "junk science" in the American Admiralty Court system. The Bureau ignored the court definition of an expert as "someone with more knowledge than a layman" in a particular subject and applied the definition of an expert as someone considered as such by their peers in a profession or specialized occupationThe Bureau published and followed a strict code of ethics that covered evidence, testing, analysis, reports and testimony, requiring an expression of degrees of certainty and avoidance of advocacy. The Bureau followed strict rules of "specificity of experience" requiring experts to examine and testify only within the narrow field in which they were considered experts by their peers and utilizing other experts where the issues contested required more than one discipline to clarify the technical details of a case. The Bureau not only provided "Forensic Examiners" in a wide variety of maritime disciplines but also produced continuing legal education credit classes in several jurisdictions to help lawyers more effectively and ethically utilize "experts"., The Bureau  provided destructive and non destructive lab tests, conducted experiments, and performed investigations. In the course of providing these services the Bureau learned that certain causes of action were frequently litigated, and that certain constants applied or certain tests could almost always be relied upon. In order to combat junk science in the court room they began to publish a series of "COMMENTATORS" dealing with commonly litigated matters and predictive of Bureau positions. Publication of well tested positions in the pages of the Commentators which were designed to be highly citatable with each volume numbered and each individual "comment numbered". Any Bureau "Forensic Examiner" who wandered very far from the Bureau's tested and published positions was in imminent danger of impeachment. Bureau Examiners proved unimpeachable. Through use of the contents in the commentators attorneys whose cases were under attack by experts engaged in junk science could often impeach such witnesses through the contents of these Commentators. 

 The Bureau also published "Guides" such as the "Lawyers Guide to The Navigational Rules and the Guide to Seaman's Rights and Legal Remedies or  "Introduction to Ocean Cargo Claims". These highly informative and helpful Guides and Commentators were spiral bound and sold with an expanded fair usage right stated with the notice of copy right. The Bureau closed its doors to litigation cases some years ago, as the last of the controlling stockholders retired and one of the leading examiners died. In the interest of the continuing battle against junk science in the admiralty courts the copy rights on the Commentators were not enforced. At least one university press and several other publishers presently vend copies of the books and Amazon frequently lists used books for several hundred dollars. However the original publisher Marine Education Textbooks of Houma, Louisiana never went out of business and still offers the entire collection as spiral bound print on demand books. In the Authoritative Literature Section we link you to this source, but our involvement with this unique collection of authoritative literature doesn't stop there. We have contracted with the some of the original authors and editors and are revising and updating certain of the books and publishing them , the entire volume, in our authoritative literature section.

 Selecting, researching, revising , updating and publishing these works is time consuming and frankly not very profitable especially since once the books are on line we derive no direct revenues from them. This is why other more recreational orientated special pages received earlier attention and have comparatively more content. But like that organization we so much admire, the Naval Institute, we are determined to use the funding generated by more popular sections to help fund less profitable but important professional sections. This quality of service is the type of thing our mission statement envisions, this is the type of unique item that you can't find anywhere else on the Internet. Since we endeavor to find and link you to every source of English language maritime information on the Internet, and we develop things that can be found no where else, why start maritime research anywhere else? This is true whether you are researching a term paper, a white paper, a market study, or a legal brief. We are proud to announce that we have completed the posting of the contents of American Admiralty Bureau's COMMENTATORS Vol. I and Vol.2 in the Authoritative Literature section today. 

 Volume I of the Commentator series once sold for $150 back when that was real money. It is now available to you free on line in our Authoritative Literature Section or in print for about half the original price from the original vendor Marine Education Textbooks. In Volume I you will be introduced to the heart of the utility of regulations, codes, and standards the Pennsylvania-Reyes Doctrine, and to the double edged sword of the Walker -Reinhart Doctrine. In Volume I you will also learn how and when the "general duty" to provide a "seaworthy vessel"  is often black letter in nature and includes and incorporates a statutory duty to maintain a "safe work place aboard a seaworthy vessel". The applicability of OSHA aboard "uninspected vessels" is thoroughly explained. The ins and outs of the Territorial Sea, the concepts of "Safe speed" and "proper look' out are all described. 

 Volume I covers the concept of allision, which is involuntary contact between a vessel and a fixed object which is distinguished from a collision, defined as involuntary contact between two vessels underway. When we tell you that these concepts are "explained" we mean explained in ways that only a lawyer could love. First you get a technical expert's insight, and then you get leading cases. Here is a sample passage:

The duty of the ship owner or operator to provide a "seaworthy vessel" has existed in the general maritime law (case law) of the English speaking nations for centuries. In the United States after 1970 , a number of cases apparently began to equate the duty to provide a seaworthy vessel with the duty to provide a "safe workplace". [See John R. Buckner v. State Boat Operators, Inc.et al., Civ. A, No. 86-898 USDC, E.D. Louisiana (680 F.Supp. 239) and  Herbert v. Otto Candies [402 F.Supp. 503 (E.D. LA 1975)].

 The appearance of this language in the case law in this time frame reflects language in Sec. 5 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 651-678). This blending of the duty to provide a "seaworthy vessel" and a "safe work place" has broadened the meaning of a "seaworthy vessel" in the eyes of U.S. courts. Today a seaworthy vessel is more than  sound of hull and appurtenances, and rigging.  A "seaworthy vessel "is a "safe work place" with proper crew levels, safe access and egress, safe walking and working surfaces and many other considerations previously unthought of. Today , the duty to provide a "safe workplace" aboard commercial vessels is often a matter of quite specific black letter law or regulation.

 In order to determine if a vessel is subject to a black -letter specific duty to provide  a safe workplace , it should be determined whether or not the vessel is "inspected". Uninspected vessels are often subject to the "general duty clause as found in sec.5 of the OSHA Act.  ''Uninspected'' in this sense refers to commercial vessels such as commercial fishing vessels, motor launches carrying six passengers or less, dry cargo barges, dredges and others that do not require preconstruction plans approval from the Coast Guard. Such vessels do not require initial inspection and issuance of s ''Certificate of Inspection'' or the periodic formal and regularly scheduled re-inspections that are a condition of maintaining a ''Certificate of Inspection''. Uninspected vessels are defined in 46 USC 2101 (43). In fact, all U.S. commercial vessels are subject to informal boarding and inspection by the Coast Guard at any time. However , the statutory ''general duty'' to provide a ''safe workplace'' contained in OSHA sec. 5 exists only on ''uninspected vessels'' as defined in 46 USC 2101 (43).

 Volumes I and 2 are posted,they're free, its there for you today. It took two decades to produce the originals of the Commentators and Guides, and we are sure that we will be quite a while reviewing, revising, updating and publishing the many remaining volumes in this important body of work. Meanwhile the originals are all available as print on demand books from 

124 North Van Ave.
Houma, LA 70363-5895
Telephone: (985) 879-3866
24-Hour FAX (985) 879-3911

 Check our authoritative literature section often since current volumes undergoing updating are visible as worka in progress. Each "Comment" is a stand alone feature so if the subject you're looking for is "up" you have the information for free. The proper citation for the revised edition will be shown. If you haven't done your best on marine regulations, codes, standards and authoritative literature; have you really exercised "due diligence?

No comments:

Post a Comment