Death on High Seas Act 46 USC §§ 30301-08 Applies in Negligent Action on Terra Firma | ZFZ Postcard Cases

The 11th Circuit recently applied the Death on High Seas Act (“DOSHA”) in a wrongful death action when a retired Air Force pilot died flying an F-16 jet, which experienced mechanical failure and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

The alleged negligence occurred on land at the Florida air force base prior to take-off where the jet was improperly serviced by defendants. At the outset of its analysis, the court states, “If we were writing on a clean slate, we would certainly agree [with plaintiff].” However, the 11th Circuit was bound by the Supreme Court’s precedent in Offshore Logistics, Inc. v. Tallentire, 477 U.S. 207, 218 (1986), holding that “admiralty jurisdiction is expressly provided under DOSHA [where] accidental deaths occurred beyond a marine league from shore.”

See below for the court’s full opinion.