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Locality and Locality-Plus Tests for Tort Actions

To invoke admiralty jurisdiction, a party has to satisfy a two-part test.

Part One: Locality.  The site or location of the waterway has to fall within the required limits of admiralty.

Part Two: Nexus.  The status of the vessel or activities and its connection with maritime activities has to be sufficient enough to entertain admiralty jurisdiction.

The place of occurrence of the tort is vital in determining the scope of admiralty jurisdiction.  Admiralty jurisdiction is usually limited to torts that occur on navigable waters.  A tort meets the location prong for the locality-plus test if it was committed on navigable waters, or the injury suffered on land was caused by a vessel on navigable waters.  Extension to recovery for injuries caused by a vessel on navigable waters even where the damage occurred on land is granted by the Admiralty Extension Act.

The tort complained of needs to show considerable relationship to traditional maritime activity.  To fall within admiralty jurisdiction, the incident in question should have had disturbing effect on maritime commerce, and the activity that gave rise to the incident should have sufficient relationship to traditional maritime activity.

Admiralty jurisdiction is confined to actions that satisfy conditions both of location and connection with maritime activity.

Inside Locality and Locality-Plus Tests for Tort Actions