The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSEMARY COLLYER, District Judge.
Captain Sheriff Saudi has filed this lawsuit, pro se, against
Northrop Grumman Corporation ("Northrop Grumman"), Newport News
Shipbuilding, Inc. ("NN Shipbuilding"), Keppel Group Corp., d/b/a
Keppel Offshore and Marine Ltd., and Keppel Shipyard (Pte.) Ltd.
(collectively, "Keppel") for injuries suffered when a crane that
was transferring him between two ships collapsed, dropping him
into the ocean and then falling on top of him.*fn1 Northrop Grumman
and NN Shipbuilding have answered Captain Saudi's Complaint with
a Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue or, Alternatively, to
Transfer. Captain Saudi has responded to this motion and the
reply filed by Northrop Grumman and NN Shipbuilding. On November
14, 2002, the parties argued orally on this matter at a motions
hearing before Judge Richard J. Leon, to whom this case was
assigned at that time.*fn2
Upon review of the parties' briefs, the transcript of the
motions hearing, and the relevant statutes and case law, the
motion to dismiss is denied and the alternative motion to
transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia is
Captain Saudi is a resident of Texas and has been a "master of
ships" since 1970.*fn3
Transcript of Motions Hearing on Nov. 14, 2002 ("Tr.Mot.Hrg.") at
17. On May 17, 1999, he was in a basket attached to a port side
hose handling crane being lifted from the vessel S/T Marine
Atlantic ("Marine Atlantic") to the vessel M/V American Discovery
("American Discovery"). Captain Saudi alleges that, at some point
during the transfer, the jib on the crane broke loose from its
mounting and fell overboard, causing him to drop "fifty (50) feet
into the Gulf of Mexico with the jib on top of him." Complaint at
5. Apparently, internal spline gears, which supported the jib,
had corroded over the years and "had spun free from their
meshings with each other, thereby removing support for the crane
jib and allowing it to collapse." Id. at 6.
The crane in question was mounted on the Marine Atlantic when
that vessel was built in the Newport News Shipyard in Virginia in
1979. NN Shipbuilding had purchased the crane from a Wisconsin
company known as Appleton, Inc. ("Appleton"). According to the
Complaint, the Marine Atlantic was "reactivated" in 1994 by
Marine Transport Lines, Inc., which docked the vessel at Keppel
Tuas Shipyard in Singapore. There, personnel from Keppel
allegedly "refurbished, remanufactured, and/or rebuilt the vessel
. . ., including its hose handling cranes. . . ." Id. at 5.
Marine Atlantic Ltd., the owner of the Marine Atlantic at that
time, then placed the vessel in the stream of international
The first count in the complaint alleges common law negligence.
Captain Saudi asserts that the crane had a defective design and
that Northrop Grumman and NN Shipbuilding failed to provide an
adequate warning of the dangers of the use of the crane.*fn4 He also
asserts that Keppel breached its duty to redesign the crane
according to 1994 safety standards when it refurbished the Marine
Atlantic. Count two sounds in strict products liability, alleging
a failure to design and manufacture the crane safely. Counts
three and four allege breaches of the implied warranty of
merchantability for the crane.
Captain Saudi bases subject matter jurisdiction of his lawsuit
on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)*fn5 and,
with respect to his claims against Keppel, general maritime
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1).*fn6 See Complaint at 3.
Consequently, venue must be determined pursuant to both
28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) and (b).
In accordance with section 1391(a), a lawsuit based on
diversity of citizenship generally may be brought only in
(1) a judicial district where any defendant resides,
if all ...