Elizabeth Fedorczyk slipped and fell in a bathtub in her cabin on board the M/V Sovereign, a cruise ship sailing
Elizabeth Fedorczyk slipped and fell in a bathtub in her cabin on board the M/V Sovereign, a cruise ship sailing in navigable waters. She brought a negligence suit against the ship’s owners and operators in a state court in New Jersey. The defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Neither party addressed the admiralty issue in their pleadings. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The appeals court, in order to rule on the appeal, had to determine whether it should apply admiralty law to this dispute or follow instead the substantive law of the state of New Jersey. Which option should the Court of Appeals choose, and why?