Admiralty – Right to Jury Trial in Certain Cases on Great Lakes – Maintenance and Cure Not Contract or Tort Matter

Libelant brought an action for maintenance and cure on the admiralty side of a federal district court in Illinois. He requested a jury trial, relying on the Act of February 20, 1845, which provides that in certain admiralty and maritime cases arising on the Great Lakes relating to any matter of contract or tort, trial shall be by jury on the demand of either party. The trial court heard the case without a jury and dismissed the libel on the merits. The court of appeals held, on appeal, that maintenance and cure was a matter of ancient and established maritime law, and not a matter of contract or tort for which the libelant would be entitled by the statute to a jury trial. Miller v. Standard Oil Co., (7th Cir. 1952) 199 F. (2d) 457, cert. den. 345 U.S. 945, 73 S.Ct. 836 (1953).