Subject Matter Jurisdiction
involves a court's power to
hear a given type of case. It
doesn't matter whether a
maritime attorney is looking at
a case involving a boating
accident, cruise ship accident,
Jones Act injury... their
successful prosecution in
court hinges on two
preliminary hurdles - subject
matter jurisdiction and
personal jurisdiction.

The business of jurisdiction in
a federal maritime case was
highlighted in a lawsuit for
breach of contract involving
the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers. US ACE was sued
by dredging company for
breach of contract involving a
project. US ACE argued that
the matter should be
dismissed or transferred.

The court focused its attention
on a legal doctrine that
confronts maritime lawyers in
federal practice, the “principal
objective” test. With the
contract at hand, the court felt
that dredging a navigable
waterway is traditional
maritime activity. As such,
maritime attorneys for the
dredging company were able
to establish that federal
subject matter jurisdiction did

This shows that regardless of
the issue at the core of the
case -
boating accident, cruise
ship accident, Jones Act
injury, vessel collision, or
other accident or incident -
establishing jurisdiction is a
prerequisite for the case to
move forward.

J-Way Southern,
Inc. v. United States, Civil
Action No. 19-12423-PBS,
United States District Court of

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