Maritime torts come under admiralty jurisdiction and are decided by maritime law. According to the Federal Tort Claims Act, certain claims against the U.S. are permitted to be litigated in the district courts. The Act confines this privilege to claims in admiralty by or against vessels or cargo of the U.S, suits against the U.S. for damages caused by public vessels, or for towage or salvage services upon which no remedy can be sought under Federal statutes. Third party complaints, however, do not fall under the purview of the Act.
In Orion Shipping & Trading Co. v. United States, 247 F.2d 755 (9th Cir. Wash. 1957), a seaman filed a complaint against the appellants for an injury incurred due to the unseaworthiness of appellants’ vessel. The district court ordered the appellants to pay damages to the seaman. However, the appellate court reversed the judgment and ordered transfer of the case to the proper court having jurisdiction over the district where appellants principal place of business is located. While transferring the third-party pleading, the court opined that the initial district court has jurisdiction in concurrence with Suits in Admiralty Act, but was not the proper venue.