DOHSADeath on the High Seas Act
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The Court is expected to resolve whether DOHSA, which precludes recovery for non-pecuniary losses such as loss of society, should be applied to a Warsaw Convention wrongful death action where the death occurs on the "high seas.
Defendants have removed DOHSA claims from state court based on the premise that the federal courts have original jurisdiction and the remedy for a death on the high seas is an exclusive federal remedy created by a federal statute.
DOHSA explicitly limits damages to pecuniary damages only for wrongful death on the high seas.
Gaudet,(149) the Court refused to follow the statutory guidelines of DOHSA and allowed damages in a Moragne wrongful death cause of action.
DOHSA creates a cause of action for the decedent's representative against the person or vessel responsible in the event of a death caused by a "wrongful act, neglect, or default" that occurs on the high seas, which is beyond three nautical miles of the United States shoreline.
67) Seizing upon the invitation extended in The Harrisburg,(68) maritime courts looked to wrongful death statutes--the Jones Act, DOHSA, and state statutes--as a basis for allowing recovery to the deceased's survivors.
When deciding whether to allow punitive damages the court deferred to Congress which the court claims limited damages available in the Jones Act and DOHSA by excluding non-pecuniary remedies.
The principal point of interest here will be to determine whether this new death remedy is developed by relying on DOHSA or whether it is developed in a way inconsistent with DOHSA.
The unseaworthiness-based death action at issue in that case was entirely a creature of federal common law, and it is hard to see how providing more generous damages for this action either directly conflicts or poses an obstacle to Congress's decision to limit the remedy for DOHSA and Jones Act actions to pecuniary damages.
In a pretrial ruling, the district court concluded that DOHSA provided the exclusive remedy for the representatives and dismissed the Louisiana state claims.
3) the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considered, as a matter of first impression, whether DOHSA applied to, and thus preempted other available claims arising from, a fatal helicopter accident that occurred approximately nine and a half nautical miles off the California coastline.