James Joyce v. Maersk Line Ltd

PRECEDENTIAL UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT _____________ No. 16-3553 _____________ JAMES L. JOYCE, Appellant v. MAERSK LINE LTD _______________ On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. No. 2-13-cv-05566) District Judge: Hon. Esther Salas _______________ Argued October 18, 2017 Before: SMITH, Chief Judge, McKEE, AMBRO, CHAGARES, JORDAN, HARDIMAN, GREENAWAY, JR., VANASKIE, SHWARTZ, KRAUSE, RESTREPO, and ROTH, Circuit Judges. (Opinion Filed: December 4, 2017) _______________ Dennis M. O’Bryan, Esq. [ARGUED] O’Bryan Baun Karamanian 401 South Woodward Avenue Suite #463 Birmingham, MI 48009 Counsel for Appellant John J. Walsh, Esq. [ARGUED] Freehill Hogan & Mahar 80 Pine Street New York, NY 10005 Counsel for Appellee Martin J. Davies Tulane University Law School 6329 Freret Street Weinmann Hall, Room 255-F New Orleans, LA 70118 Amicus Curiae _______________ OPINION OF THE COURT _______________ JORDAN, Circuit Judge. Today 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 2 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). I. Background The 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. Not 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. The 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. 3 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 ...

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