A Federal trial court has found Admiralty jurisdiction existed over a negligence claim concerning a SCUBA diver bitten by a shark. The diver alleged in the complaint that the dive master took a group of divers aboard the dive boat Cetus Specula out into the Pacific Ocean for an out-of-cage shark diving expedition. At the site, the dive master chummed the water and then hand-fed the sharks dead fish. The diver claims that the dive master was intoxicated and directed her to an unsafe area. While feeding the shark the dive master held a dead fish which led a Mako shark directly towards the diver which prompted the shark to bite her.
The diver filed a lawsuit against the dive master, his company, the company he charted the dive boat from and the dive boat Cetus Specula in rem alleging that there was operational negligence of the dive expedition. The defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit arguing that the Federal court lacked admiralty jurisdiction to hear the case. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction meaning that if the lawsuit is a type that does not fall within the categories of claims authorized by the United States Constitution of Federal law, the Federal court must dismiss the claim. Both Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and Federal law authorize Federal courts to hear admiralty claims.