United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
the Court is Plaintiffs Archer Daniels Midland Co.
(“ADM”), ADM Export Co. (“ADM
Export”), and ADM International Sarl
(“ADMI”) (hereafter collectively
“Plaintiffs”), Motion to Strike Jury Trial Demand
of Defendants Research Fumigation Co., LLC, and Imperium
Insurance Company (hereafter collectively
“Defendants”), R. Doc. 9. Defendants have not
opposed the motion. For the following reasons,
Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED.
BACKGROUND AND PRESENT MOTION
bring this action for breach of contract and tort to recover
damages in relation to a fire which occurred in the cargo
hold of the M/V LORENTZOS, a bulk cargo carrier Plaintiff ADM
had chartered at the time of the accident.
ADM and ADM Export, are Delaware corporations with their
principal places of business in Illinois. Plaintiff ADMI, is
a Swiss corporation, with its principal place of business in
Switzerland. ADM Export and ADMI are both subsidiaries of
ADM. Defendant Research Fumigation is an LLC organized under
Louisiana law, with a principal place of business in Reserve,
Louisiana. Each member of Research Fumigations is a Louisiana
citizen. Defendant Imperium is a Delware corporation
authorized to conduct business in Louisiana. Imperium was
Research Fumigation's commercial general liability
insurer during the relevant time period. R. Doc. 1 at 2.
to Plaintiff, AMD International chartered the M/V LORENTZOS,
a bulk cargo carrier, in order to transfer grain from
Destrehan, Louisiana to South Korea. R. Doc. 9-1 at 1. At the
time of transfer, the M/V LORENTZOS was loaded with bulk
grain cargo which was being exported to a foreign purchaser.
R. Doc. 9-1 at 2. Before leaving Destrehan, ADM International
contracted with Defendant Research Fumigation, who fumigated
the cargo for in transit fumigation. R. Doc. 9-1 at 2. While
at sea, the vessel had a fire in cargo hold number one, which
Plaintiffs aver was caused by “the improper application
of fumigant.” R. Doc. 9-1 at 2.
did not make a jury demand in their original Complaint and
specifically designated this action as a matter falling
within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the Court
under Rule 9(h). Defendants answered, and asserted that
“they are entitled to and do hereby request a trial by
jury.” R. Doc. 8.
filed a Motion to Strike Jury Trial Demand, R. Doc. 9.
Plaintiffs claim that jurisdiction in the instant matter is
squarely within the Court's admiralty and maritime and
Plaintiffs have pled the matter as a proceeding under Rule
9(h). Accordingly, Plaintiffs argue that Defendants'
demand for jury trial should be stricken.
LAW & ANALYSIS
present matter, it is undisputed that Plaintiffs have
designated their claims against Defendants as claims in
admiralty under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(h), thereby
invoking their right to a non-jury trial. Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 9(h) provides that,
If a claim for relief is within the admiralty or maritime
jurisdiction and also within the court's subject-matter
jurisdiction on some other ground, the pleading may designate
the claim as an admiralty or maritime claim for purposes of
Rules 14(c), 38(e), and 82 and the Supplemental Rules for
Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions.
A claim cognizable only in the admiralty or maritime
jurisdiction is an admiralty or maritime claim for those
purposes, whether or not so designated.
Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 9(h). Because Plaintiffs have designated
these claims under admiralty and maritime jurisdiction
pursuant Rule 9(h), there is no right to have these claims
tried by a jury. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 38(e); Rachal v.
Ingram Corp., 795 F.2d 1210, 1216 (5th Cir. 1986).
As this Court has stated previously, [W]hen a plaintiff
properly designates his claim as one that is in admiralty and
thereby invokes the court's admiralty jurisdiction
pursuant to Rule 9(h), the court is to adjudicate the claim
without a jury. See, e.g., Harrison v. Flota Mercante
Grancolombiana, S.A.,577 F.2d 968, 986-87 (5th Cir.
1978). As the Fifth Circuit has explained, there is “no
right to a jury trial when the complaint contains a statement
identifying the claim as an admiralty or maritime claim, even
though [another basis for] jurisdiction exists as
well.” T.N.T Marine Serv., Inc. v. Weaver Shipyards
& Dry Docks, Inc.,702 F.2d 585, 587 (5th Cir.