Asignacion v. Rickmers Genoa Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Cie KG
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
783 F.3d 1010, 2015 AMC 913 (2015)
Lito Martinez Asignacion (plaintiff) was a Filipino seaman who was severely injured while working on a vessel docked in the port of New Orleans. The vessel was owned by Rickmers Genoa Schiffahrts (Rickmers) (defendant), a German corporation, and Asignacion was employed by Rickmers under a standard Philippine maritime-employment contract. The terms of the contract specified that any employment disputes would be resolved through arbitration in the Philippines. Rickmers provided for Asignacion’s medical costs until he was repatriated to the Philippines. After being treated for his injury, Asignacion filed suit against Rickmers in Louisiana state court. Rickmers filed an exception to the suit seeking to enforce the arbitration clause in the employment contract. The court granted the exception, stayed Asignacion’s litigation, and ordered arbitration to proceed in the Philippines. The Philippine arbitration panel awarded Asignacion $1,870 based on his disability. Asignacion filed a motion asking that the arbitration award be set aside as against United States public policy. Rickmers removed the action to federal district court and filed a motion to enforce the arbitration award. The district court denied the motion and refused to enforce the award, holding that it violated United States public policy. Rickmers appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Owen, J.)
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