Buccina et al v. Grimsby
Order. Defendant's Motion for summary judgment (Related Doc # 26 ) denied. Judge James G. Carr on 1/6/2016.(G,D)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Case No. 3:14CV2434
Linda Ann Grimsby,
This is a personal injury case arising from a boating accident on the Maumee River.
Plaintiff brought this action within the statute of limitations for admiralty cases, but beyond
the statute of limitations for state-law negligence cases. Defendant moved to dismiss on the basis
that, though the Maumee is navigable, the complaint otherwise failed to allege the second basis for
this court’s admiralty jurisdiction – namely, that the incident giving rise to this suit had the potential
to disrupt maritime commerce. See generally Gruber v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 513 U.S.
527, 532-34 (1995).1
I overruled that motion. Buccina v. Grimsby, 96 F. Supp. 3d 706 (N.D. Ohio 2015).
Pending is the defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Doc. 26), in which she renews
her challenge to the plaintiff’s assertion of admiralty jurisdiction. She does so on the basis that
In addition, the “potential hazard to maritime commerce [ must] arise out of activity that
bears a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity.” Grubart, supra, 513 U.S. at 534;
Foremost Ins. Co. v. Richardson, 457 U.S. 668, 675 n.5 (1982). Conveying passengers in a pleasure
boat is a “traditional maritime activity.” Quinn v. St. Charles Gaming Co., 815 So.2d 963, 968 (La.
undisputed facts developed during discovery show that the incident had no potential to disrupt
The accident happened when defendant, owner and operator of a seventeen-foot pleasure
boat, was headed upriver at the mouth of the Maumee. No commercial vessels were in sight.
Plaintiff Buccina and a Ms. Roy were passengers. The waters were choppy; the parties’ estimates
of the boat’s speed vary, with plaintiff and Ms. Roy estimating it to have been in excess of twenty
m.p.h.; defendant contends her speed was less. Ms. Roy testified that, shortly before the accident,
she told defendant to be careful. Defendant maintained speed.
The boat hit a wave, estimated to be about three feet; defendant had turned slightly just
before striking the wave. The impact lifted plaintiff about six inches out of her seat, which was in
the bow of the boat. She felt pain (from, she alleges, a resulting back injury).
Defendant drove the boat to the Toledo Coast Guard station. Personnel on duty at the station
got plaintiff out of the boat, onto a gurney, and into an ambulance. These activities occupied Coast
Guard personnel for about twenty minutes.
In addition to, and perhaps more importantly than, the potential effect on merchant shipping
on the Maumee noted in Buccina, supra, 96 F. Supp. 3d at 711, this incident led directly to the
involvement of Coast Guard personnel. To be sure, such involvement was not of the search-andrescue sort commonly associated with Coast Guard activities with a perceptible potential impact on
maritime commerce. See, e.g.,In re Mission Bay Jet Sports, LLC, 570 F.3d 1124, 1128-30 (9th Cir.
2009) (describing cases). Nonetheless, the need to tend to an injured boat passenger made those
servicemen unavailable to others, including commercial vessels and seamen for whose safe passage
along the Maumee and well-being they were primarily responsible.
I conclude, accordingly, that exercise of admiralty jurisdiction is appropriate due to the
potential that the accident and its sequella had to disrupt maritime commerce.
It is, accordingly,
ORDERED THAT defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Doc. 26) be, and the same
hereby is, denied.
/s/ James G. Carr
Sr. U.S. District Judge
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