Generally, state procedural laws are applied to admiralty cases, while substantive laws may be applied only if they are not inconsistent with substantive maritime law.[i] When admiralty enforces a state statute as in a wrongful death action under a state statute, the federal court does not apply state court procedure. Nevertheless, federal courts may permit trial by jury, injunctive relief or specific performance, while providng means to enforce obligations under it jurisdiction.
A state court hearing an admiralty or maritime case is required to apply the admiralty and maritime law, even if it conflicts with the law of the state, under the “reverse-Erie doctrine.” While the “Erie doctrine” requires that federal courts hearing state actions must apply substantive state law, the “reverse-Erie doctrine” requires state courts hearing admiralty cases to apply substantive federal admiralty law. However, state courts are allowed to apply state procedural law.
[i] Terre Aux Boeufs Land Co. v. J. R. Gray Barge Co., 803 So. 2d 86 (La.App. 4 Cir. Nov. 14, 2001)