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Daniels v. The Fishing Vessel John & Nicholas

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina

July 31, 2013

JAMIE S. DANIELS, Plaintiff,
v.
THE FISHING VESSEL JOHN & NICHOLAS, OFFICIAL NUMBER 1102517, her engines, tackle, fishing gear, permits and apparel, etc., in rem, and JOHN & NICHOLAS, INC., in personam, Defendants

Decided July 30, 2013.

Page 834

For Jamie S. Daniels, Plaintiff: Stevenson L. Weeks, Wheatly, Wheatly, Weeks, Lupton & Massie, P.A., Beaufort, NC.

For John & Nicholas, Inc., in personam, Defendant: John E. Holloway, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders, LLP, Norfolk, VA.

OPINION

Page 835

TERRENCE W. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

ORDER

This matter is before the Court on the defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) [DE 10]. A hearing on this motion was held in New Bern, North Carolina on July 24, 2013 at 3:15 p.m. For the reasons stated herein, the defendant's motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff (Mr. Daniels) was a crewmember on defendant's fishing vessel John & Nicholas (J& N). On February 13, 2010, the J& N sailed from Newport News, Virginia to begin a scallop trip in the Delmarva closed region. The plaintiff was injured onboard the vessel on February 20, 2010. Mr. Daniels remained on the vessel until February 23, 2010 when the vessel landed in Newport News, Virginia. Immediately after landing, the plaintiff sought medical care in Virginia. Mr. Daniels received the remainder of his medical care in North Carolina. Mr. Daniels has now initiated a suit in admiralty against the vessel and its owner. The corporate defendant argues that the plaintiff's filing of suit in this Court was improper as the defendant has not had contacts with the forum state of North Carolina sufficient to support this Court's personal jurisdiction over it. Although the defendant is incorporated in the State of New Jersey, and has its principal place of business there, it has had numerous contacts with the State of North Carolina recently and over the years.

First, the vessel landed in North Carolina eighteen times during the period from 2008 to 2013. Although the vessel has made no port calls here in 2013, it made one North Carolina port call in 2012, and three in 2011. Further, all the trips in which the plaintiff participated after his 2009 rehiring either landed in North Carolina or landed in Virginia with special permission from North Carolina. These trips occurred in late 2009 and early 2010. These North Carolina port represent just one type of contact that the defendant had with this state.

In addition to docking in North Carolina eighteen times, J& N landed fish during each of those landings and landed fish eight times in Virginia using its North Carolina quota allotments. J& N landed the following annual poundage at Graybeards, LLC in Wanchese, North Carolina:

Year

Poundage

2008

60,813

2009

77,614

2010

84,177

2011

18,769

2012

17,148

North Carolina law permits the transfer of North Carolina fishing quotas to Virginia when emergencies or weather conditions prohibit a vessel from landing in North Carolina. Due to shoaling conditions at Oregon Inlet, J& N landed in Virginia eight times during the period from 2010 to 2013. The ...


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