Michael H. Lee v. Abdon Callais Offshore, LLC

  • [B]Case Name: [/B]Michael H. Lee v. Abdon Callais Offshore, LLC.
    [B]Date Decided: [/B]December 23, 2009
    [B]Court: [/B]U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Louisiana
    [B]Judge: [/B]Judge Berrigan
    [B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 5215313 (E.D.La.)

[/B]Before this Court was a Motion to Strike Jury Request made by plaintiff, Michael Lee, against defendant, Abdon Callais Offshore LLC’s opposition.

Lee filed the original action for injuries sustained against Abdon Callais under general maritime law. In his original complaint, Lee asserted admiralty/maritime jurisdiction and requested a jury trial. Abdon also similarly requested a jury trial. Lee then filed this motion to strike Jury Request and filed a motion to Correct/Amend his Complaint. The Magistrate judge granted Lee’s Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint to designate this action as proceeding under Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

[/B]Did the Magistrate judge correctly deny defendant’s request for a jury trial in an amended complaint filed pursuant to rule 9(h)?

[/B]The Magistrate relied upon [I]Becker v. Tidewater [/I](405 F.3d 257) which held that LHWCA and negligence claims did not alter the exclusion of jury trials for admiralty suits. Moreover, despite the existence of diversity jurisdiction in [I]Baker[/I], the plaintiff, Becker, controlled the complaint by not filing under diversity jurisdiction but rather under admiralty jurisdiction.

Accordingly, in light of the [I]Baker [/I]court, this Court granted Lee’s motion to strike defendant’s demand for a jury.

This case illustrates the concept that the plaintiff, is the “master of his/her complaint”. If a plaintiff chooses to bring an action under federal diversity jurisdiction, then both parties have a right to request a jury. [/B]

[B]However, if the plaintiff chooses to assert the action under the federal court’s admiralty/maritime jurisdiction then the defendant does not have the right to a jury regardless of whether the action could have been brought under diversity. [/B]

[B]Steve Gordon *[/B]