JAMES L. JOYCE, Appellant
MAERSK LINE LTD
October 18, 2017
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District
of New Jersey (D.C. No. 2-13-cv-05566) District Judge: Hon.
M. O'Bryan, Esq. [ARGUED] O'Bryan Baun Karamanian
Counsel for Appellant
J. Walsh, Esq. [ARGUED] Freehill Hogan & Mahar Counsel
J. Davies Tulane University Law School Amicus Curiae
Before: SMITH, Chief Judge, McKEE, AMBRO, CHAGARES, JORDAN,
HARDIMAN, GREENAWAY, JR., VANASKIE, SHWARTZ, KRAUSE,
RESTREPO, and ROTH, Circuit Judges.
JORDAN, Circuit Judge.
we stop swimming against the tide of opinion on an important
question of maritime law. Following the lead of several of
our sister circuits, we now hold that a union contract freely
entered by a seafarer - a contract that includes rates of
maintenance, cure, and unearned wages - will not be reviewed
piecemeal by courts unless there is evidence of unfairness in
the collective bargaining process. In so holding, we overrule
our decision in Barnes v. Andover Co., L.P., 900
F.2d 630 (3d Cir. 1990).
facts of this case are not in dispute. James Joyce was a
member of the Seafarers International Union. He signed
"Articles of Agreement" with the shipping company
Maersk Line Limited and agreed to serve as a bosun aboard the
MAERSK OHIO for a three-month period, from September 18, 2012
until December 18, 2012. The Union and Maersk had reached a
collective bargaining agreement that governed the terms of
all unionized seafarers' employment with Maersk. The
collective bargaining agreement was incorporated by reference
into the Articles of Agreement between Joyce and Maersk.
long after the MAERSK OHIO departed as scheduled from the
Port of Newark, New Jersey, Joyce fell ill. He was examined
onboard and diagnosed with kidney stones. That diagnosis was
later confirmed at a hospital in Spain, and he was declared
unfit for duty and repatriated to the United States.
collective bargaining agreement provided that, if a seafarer
was medically discharged prior to the conclusion of his
contract, he was entitled to unearned wages for the remaining
period of the contract. Overtime was not included in the
definition of unearned wages. Joyce accordingly received only
base pay as unearned wages for the time left on his contract
after he was medically discharged.
Dissatisfied, Joyce filed a putative class action in the
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
He alleged that the "portions of the [collective
bargaining agreement] governing unearned wages ... violated
general maritime law[.]" Joyce v. Maersk Line,
Ltd., No. 13-5566, 2016 WL 3566726, at *1 (D.N.J. June
30, 2016). More particularly, he claimed that he was owed
overtime pay. Id. at *2. The District Court
disagreed and granted summary judgment to Maersk on the
ground that, as a matter of law, given the collective
bargaining agreement, Joyce was not entitled to overtime.
Id. at *6-7. In doing so, the Court distinguished
our decision in Barnes. Id. We had said in
that case that the specifics of what is covered by a
seafarer's right to "maintenance" -
traditionally, the right to food and lodging expenses - could
be modified by a court, even if those specifics were
established in a collective bargaining agreement.
Barnes, 900 F.2d at 640.
now asks us to overturn the District Court's ruling on
unearned wages. Because seafarers were entitled at common
law to both maintenance and unearned wages, he argues that
our holding in Barnes should extend to unearned
wages set by a collective bargaining agreement, making the
union contract subject to change by court order to conform
with traditional maritime law. His appeal presents an
opportunity for us to reconsider our holding in
Standard of Review
the District Court granted Maersk's motion for summary
judgment, we review its determination de novo,
applying the same standard that it applied. Shelton v.
Bledsoe, 775 F.3d 554, 559 (3d Cir. 2015). A "court
shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material ...