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March 03, 2021 Book Review

Damages Recoverable in Maritime Matters

Reviewed by Andrea Kotrosits

While Damages Recoverable in Maritime Matters, edited by Robert L. Gardana, likely is most suitable for an attorney with a base knowledge of maritime and admiralty law, it comes in handy for any attorney who wants to learn more about the subject. Over the past few months, it has sat at the corner of my desk—sometimes covered by to-do lists and other notes—and when research is requested of me in a maritime-related matter, I pull out this handy resource that provides more than just useful information about damages in maritime cases. It provides a starting point and background information on many maritime topics.

This resource was originally published in 1984, and this edition is an update to the original. If you have the original, you definitely should make the upgrade. This edition has almost double the chapters of the original and provides updates from top practitioners on recent case law and much more. The chapters cover a range of topics related to maritime damages including collisions and allisions, seafarer-related law, passenger injuries, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), workers’ compensation issues, cargo, and general averages, salvage, contract actions, toxic exposure, arrest or attachment actions, marine insurance, punitive damages, defenses and limitations of liability, whistleblowers, and recreational boating.

Having spent much of my short time as an attorney working on insurance-related matters, the chapter covering marine insurance was particularly interesting. Among the useful pieces of information, I gleaned from this chapter was the advice that, in marine insurance, it is often helpful for American attorneys to gain familiarity with English insurance law as American courts have used it “as a matter of course.” This chapter discusses both first and third-party insurance, including a discussion of the Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Clubs. The authors of the chapter sprinkle in a couple of tips for the practitioner, and I especially enjoyed that aspect of this chapter. The “practitioner’s tip” near the end of the chapter, related to punitive damages and insurance coverage, also neatly leads into the next chapter, covering punitive damage awards.

I was surprised and excited to find a chapter dedicated to maritime whistleblower law—whistleblower law being an interest of mine. Maritime whistleblowers have been particularly effective at aiding the US government in catching and penalizing vessel owners, operators, and crew members that are illegally polluting the waters. The whistleblower receives a monetary award, and the oceans—hopefully—end up a little cleaner.

This book covers such a wide range of maritime damage topics that it really goes beyond damages and becomes a solid resource for maritime law generally. If you want a compact and useful resource including history and current case law on many maritime law topics, add this one to your desk—you will reach for it more times than you imagine.

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Reviewed by Andrea Kotrosits

Andrea Kotrosits is an Associate focusing her practice on policyholder insurance coverage matters.