McGeehan, Colie and Eastwood. The opinion of the court was delivered by McGeehan, S.j.a.d.
[5 NJSuper Page 168] A motion to strike the complaint on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter was made by the defendants in the Law Division of
the Superior Court, Hudson County. This appeal is from the order denying the motion. The sole question for decision is whether our State court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this maritime tort suit.
The allegations of the complaint are the usual allegations setting forth a cause of action for damages for personal injuries sustained in a collision resulting from the negligence of the defendants. The collision was between a seaplane operating on a tidewater stream in Bergen County and a rowboat anchored thereon. The proceeding was in personam against the defendants and was not a proceeding in rem nor a proceeding by an employee against an employer.
The jurisdiction of the Federal courts over this cause of action is admitted. The question is whether the Federal jurisdiction is exclusive or whether our State court has concurrent jurisdiction under the saving clause of the applicable Congressional acts.
The suit was commenced on August 4, 1941, at which time the applicable provisions of the acts of Congress were as follows:
"The district courts shall have original jurisdiction as follows: * * * (3) Admiralty causes, seizures and prizes. Third. Of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it , * * *." (28 U.S.C.A. 41.) (Italics ours.)
"The jurisdiction vested in the courts of the United States in the cases and proceedings hereinafter mentioned, shall be exclusive of the courts of the several States: * * *
"Third. Of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it * * *." (28 U.S.C.A. 371.) (Italics ours.)
The saving clause italicized above came down without change from the Judiciary Act of 1789.
That this action for damages for personal injuries resulting from negligence is a common-law remedy and available in this State, unless barred by constitution or statute, is not open to question. Defendants urge that the statutory
provisions quoted above constitute a bar, because they give exclusive jurisdiction over maritime tort actions to ...