In re Catalina Cruises Inc., 137 F.3d 1422, 98 Cal. Daily Op. Serv.
1709 (9th Cir. 03/10/1998)

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
No. 96-56217, 37 F.3d 1422
March 10, 1998

IN RE: CATALINA CRUISES, INC., IN THE MATTER OF THE
PETITION OF CATALINA CRUISES, INC., AS OWNERS OF THE
MOTOR VESSEL "CATALINA COUNTESS" FOR EXONERATION
FROM OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. CATALINA CRUISES, INC.,
PETITIONER-APPELLANT, v. JULIE LUNA; BARTOLOME ALCALA;
LISA BOLTON; MONIQUE BROWN; SYLVIA BROWN; DAWN
DYER; WILLIAM GROVES; EDWARD PIERCE; MELONY PIERCE;
ANTHONY TIDWELL; JAMES TOLBERT; SHARON WASHINGTON;
CAPRICE WINSTEAD; LUKE BRUNET; DENA DECK; KIRSTEN
DECK; ALEX HEIDHARIAN; KAMRAN HEIDHARIAN; MEGASHIA
JACKSON; DARRYL KING; ANA MUNOZ; JAN TSJIOE; ELISA
UGARTE; JOE YUAN; KEVIN YOUNG; TYRONE YOUNG;
BARTOLOME ALCALA; VALERIE A. JORDAN; CLEVELAND
WASHINGTON; TONI WASHINGTON; WAYNE LAIRD; ADOLPHUS
EDMOND, CLAIMANTS-APPELLEES.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central
District of California A. Andrew Hauk, Senior District Judge,
Presiding

D.C. No. CV-94-05444-AAH Argued and Submitted
November 3, 1997--Pasadena, California

Walter Klein, Wilner, Klein & Siegel, Beverly Hills, Califor- nia,
for the petitioner-appellant. Steven Unger, Law Offices of
Steven H. Unger, Beverly Hills, California, for the claimants-
appellees.

Before: Floyd R. Gibson,* Alex Kozinski, and Stephen S. Trott,
Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Opinion by Judge
Gibson

SUMMARY

GIBSON, Circuit Judge:

Catalina Cruises, Inc. ("Catalina Cruises") appeals the dis- trict
court's judgment, following a bench trial, that Catalina Cruises
operated its passenger-carrying vessel, the M/V CATALINA
COUNTESS (the "COUNTESS"), in a negligent manner. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

The COUNTESS is a 127-foot passenger vessel, inspected and
certified by the Coast Guard for operation between Long Beach,
California and Catalina Island. The COUNTESS is certified to
carry a maximum of 793 passengers. The vessel consists of an
enclosed main deck; a first deck with both open and enclosed
portions; and a second deck which is fully      unenclosed.

On April 24, 1994, the COUNTESS was under the command of
Captain Donald Martin, an experienced vessel "master" or
"operator" who had been licensed by the United States Coast
Guard for thirty years. That morning, he reported for work,
prepared the vessel for crossing, and checked the weather. The
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA")
forecast called for winds from the west to northwest at 15-25
knots, with five foot seas, and swells from the west at a height of
five feet. The marine weather forecast for the morning called for a
small craft advisory.

The First Mate, Denny Dennis, noted that it was windy with
turbulent sea conditions. The COUNTESS left Long Beach at
approximately 9:00 a.m. The vessel arrived in Avalon, on Catalina
Island, at 10:55 a.m., and all passengers disembarked. The
COUNTESS then made its way north along the Catalina coast
to Toyon Bay, where 121 passengers boarded. The group
consisted primarily of campers and their chaperons. At 11:55
a.m., the vessel returned to Avalon where 198 additional
passengers boarded. Dennis met with the chaperons to inform
them that the crossing would be "rough." The whitecaps in the
channel were more prevalent than they had been in the      
morning crossing, indicating a significant increase in wind speed.

Captain Martin did not contact the Harbor Master in Avalon for a
more recent weather report prior to leaving Avalon. The Countess
began its return trip to Long Beach at approximately 12:25 p.m.
Captain Martin sailed north up the coast of Catalina toward Long
Point. This route allowed the COUNTESS to travel in the lee of the
island until, by executing a starboard turn, Captain Martin could
travel "downhill" with the swells. It was his intention to keep the
wind, waves, seas and swells primarily on the aft port quarter,
resulting in a more comfortable ride for the passengers, as
opposed to the direct course from Avalon to Long Beach, which
was the regular route. At 12:45 p.m., the COUNTESS was
approximately one and one-half miles off Long Point. It was      
then that Captain Martin began to execute the starboard turn to
head for the mainland.

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U.S. Department of Labor - These are contact
numbers for Dept of Labor Offices that maintain
regional employment, unemployment, wage
information (cont'd)

MONTANA - Helena, MT - (406) 444-2430
NEBRASKA - Lincoln, NE - (402) 471-9964
NEVADA - Carson City, NV - (775) 684-0387
NEW HAMPSHIRE - Concord, NH - (603) 228-4123
NEW JERSEY - Trenton, NJ 08625 - (609) 292-0099
NEW MEXICO - Albuquerque, NM - (505) 222-4683
NEW YORK - Albany, NY - (518) 457-6369
NORTH CAROLINA - Raleigh, NC - (919) 733-2936
NORTH DAKOTA - Bismarck, ND - (701) 328-2868
OHIO - Columbus, OH - (614) 752-9494
OKLAHOMA - Oklahoma City, OK - (405) 557-7265
OREGON - Salem, OR - (503) 947-1212
PENNSYLVANIA - Harrisburg, PA - (717) 787-3266
PUERTO RICO Hato Rey, PR - (787) 754-5340
RHODE ISLAND - Cranston, RI - (401) 462-8767
SOUTH CAROLINA - Columbia, SC - (803) 737-2660
SOUTH DAKOTA - Aberdeen, SD - (605) 626-2314
TENNESSEE - Nashville, TN - (615) 741-2284
TEXAS - Austin, TX - (512) 491-4802
UTAH - Salt Lake City, UT - (801) 526-9401
VERMONT - Montpelier, VT - (802) 828-4153
VIRGIN ISLANDS, Charlotte Amalie, VI 340 776-3700
VIRGINIA - Richmond, VA - (804) 786-7496
WASHINGTON - Lacey, WA - (360) 438-4804
WEST VIRGINIA - Charleston, WV - (304) 558-2660
WISCONSIN - Madison, WI - (608) 267-2393
WYOMING - Casper, WY - (307) 473-3807
U.S. Department of Labor - These are contact
numbers for Dept of Labor Offices that maintain
regional employment, unemployment, wage
information.

ALABAMA - Montgomery, AL - (334) 242-8859
ALASKA - Juneau, AK - (907) 465-4518
ARIZONA - Phoenix, AZ - (602) 542-3871
ARKANSAS - Little Rock, AR - (501) 682-4500
CALIFORNIA - Sacramento, CA - (916) 262-2160
COLORADO - Denver, CO - (303) 318-8898
CONNECTICUT, Wethersfield,CT, (860) 263-6255
DELAWARE - Wilmington, DE - (302) 761-8052
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - (202) 671-1633
FLORIDA - Tallahassee, FL - (850) 488-1048
GEORGIA - Atlanta, GA - (404) 232-3875
GUAM - Tamuning, GU - (671) 475-706
HAWAII - Honolulu, HI - (808) 586-8842
IDAHO - Boise, ID - (800) 772-2553
ILLINOIS - Chicago, IL - (312) 793-2316
INDIANA - Indianapolis, IN - (317) 232-7460
IOWA - Des Moines, IA - (515) 281-0255
KANSAS - Topeka, KS - (785) 296-5058
LOUISIANA - Baton Rouge, LA - (225) 342-3141
MAINE - Augusta, ME - (207) 287-2271
MARYLAND - Baltimore, MD - (410) 767-2250
MASSACHUSETTS - Boston, MA - (617) 626-6556
MICHIGAN - Detroit, MI - (313) 456-3090
MINNESOTA - St. Paul, MN - (651) 282-2714
MISSISSIPPI - Jackson, MS - (601) 321-6261
MISSOURI - Jefferson City, MO - (573) 751-3609
caselaw - heavy weather
Legal rights of maritime workers - Jones Act - Injured Mariner - Legal Test for Seamen Status - When is an employee a
seaman and when are they not a seaman - Jones Act for ferry workers - Exposure to Toxic and Hazardous Substances
When you visit ferry operator
sites, the typical job
postings may include:

Captain or "Master”, under
these US Coast Guard license
qualifications:
▪ 100 Ton Master
▪ 200 Ton Master  
▪ 500 Ton Master  
▪ 1600 Ton Master  
sometimes seeking
endorsements and STCW 95.

Mate , under this United
States Coast Guard license:
▪ 100 Ton Mate
▪ 200 Ton Mate  
▪ 500 Ton Mate  
▪ 1600 Ton Mate
sometimes seeking
endorsements and STCW 95.

Able Bodied Seaman, or Able
Seaman
or AB

Deckhand
May require STCW
95.

Chief Engineer , need to hold
this Coast Guard license:
▪ Chief Engineer Limited
▪ Chief Engineer Unlimited

Designated Duty Engineer  
under USCG license:
▪ Designated Duty Engineer
Some companies call their
position
Marine Engineer

QMED
Utility Worker
Electrician
Marine Mechanic
Green Trainee
or Trainee

Ferry Operators also seek

Ticket Reservationists, a/k/a
Reservation Agents
Customer Service
Traffic Operations Personnel
Parking Lot Personnel
Security Personnel

Companies may require
STCW, MMD (merchant
marine document, or Z Card)
Where a larger ferry company
operates its own shipyard or
maintenance facility, they may
seek the following:

Welder
Marine Electrician
Pipe Fitter
Carpenter
Electronics Technician
Painter
Administrative
Accounting
Personnel
Laborer
Can the operator of a passenger vessel be liable for injuries
or damages to passengers if they made a decision that
subjected the vessel and passengers to severe weather
conditions? This is a court case where 32 passengers filed
claims against a vessel operator, claiming that the operator
had negligently operated the vessel. The weather conditions
included 25-30 knot wind speeds and 5 to 10 foot wave
heights. This federal court decision deals with that issue.
Back to
legal rights.