The many advantages the admiralty gives to an injured plaintiff, particularly if he can be brought within the scope of those remedies traditionally reserved to seamen, has long been the envy of lawyers whose shore-bound client's causes are often subjected to a confusing and conflicting array of local laws and procedures. A plaintiff within the admiralty jurisdiction can, for instance, properly commence his action in any district wherein he can obtain service of process upon the defendant or upon the res against which his maritime lien attaches, and need not worry about such nebulous concepts as "doing business." Furthermore, he need not worry about the uncertainties currently prevalent because of the rejection of the "vested rights" approach in solving choice of law problems-he knows that, by remaining within the jurisdiction of the admiralty, both the substantive and procedural law applicable to his claim will be uniform, regardless of the forum ultimately selected. Even if he proceeds outside the admiralty, he will take with him many of the best features of that law, including its doctrines of comparative negligence and laches. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in almost all instances the choice whether to proceed within the admiralty jurisdiction of a federal district court or outside that jurisdiction is made by the plaintiff after he has determined the detriments and benefits of each choice. It is this flexibility, and the ability to use or not use the jurisdictional and venue advantages of the admiralty as best suit a particular plaintiff's purpose, that is, undoubtedly, the greatest single inducement to having a claim characterized as maritime.
Alfred S. Pelaez,
Admiralty Tort Jurisdiction - The Last Barrier,
Duq. L. Rev.
Available at: https://dsc.duq.edu/dlr/vol7/iss1/12