Admiralty law preempts state unfair trade practices statute

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut ruled that federal admiralty law preempts the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. In the instant case, plaintiff insured his boat with defendant insurers. The boat sank in a storm and plaintiff filed a claim. After receiving payment, plaintiff filed a supplemental claim. When the parties couldn’t reach agreement, plaintiff sought and obtained an extension of the time to file suit. After the agreed extension expired, plaintiff filed suit alleging, among other things, that defendants violated the state unfair trade practices act, entitling him to attorneys’ fees and punitive damages. Defendants sought summary judgment. The court ruled that the action was in admiralty and that federal admiralty law preempted the provision in the state law concerning attorneys’ fees and punitive damages. DeRossi v. National Loss Management, No. 3-02-cv-247 (JCH) (HK Law)

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