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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
May 5, 1992, Argued and Submitted, Honolulu, Hawaii ; August 4, 1992, Filed
HALL, Circuit Judge:
Appellant Kevin T. Dowling sued Appellee American Hawaii Cruises, Inc. ("AHC"), under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 688, and general maritime law, for injuries he suffered while working aboard AHC's ship the S.S. Independence. The case went to a jury, which found against Dowling on the grounds that AHC was not negligent and that the S.S. Independence was seaworthy. Dowling claims that the district court erred both by finding that the minutes of meetings of the ship's safety committee were privileged and therefore immune from discovery, and by applying the wrong standard for seaworthiness in deciding Dowling's motion for a new trial. The district court had jurisdiction over Dowling's claims under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1333. We have [**2] jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Because we hold that the district court erred in concluding that the safety committee minutes were immune from discovery, and therefore grant Dowling a new trial, we need not consider whether the district court properly defined the law of seaworthiness in denying Dowling's motion for a new trial.
Dowling was First Mate aboard the S.S. Independence, a cruise ship that makes voyages around the Hawaiian Islands. On December 1, 1988, while supervising mooring operations, Dowling slipped and fell onto the deck of the S.S. Independence, seriously injuring his back. He alleges that he slipped on oil leaking from a defective "roller chock," which is a device that prevents mooring lines from chafing against the bulkheads and the hull of the ship. On August 22, 1989, Dowling filed suit against AHC alleging that AHC was negligent in not repairing the roller chock, and that the S.S. Independence was unseaworthy.
On January 10, 1990, Dowling served AHC with his first set of interrogatories. Interrogatory 29 requested: "Describe your procedures regarding the safety of employees, i.e., officers and crew on board the S.S. Independence." [**3] Other interrogatories specifically requested information regarding the roller chock. AHC refused to answer Interrogatory 29, and also refused to turn over the minutes of the meetings of the ship's "safety committee" held during the period from November 12, 1987 to December 1, 1988. AHC asserted a privilege of "self-critical" analysis, which it alleged protected this information from discovery. Nonetheless, AHC ultimately produced heavily redacted excerpts of the minutes from four safety committee meetings in 1987. The excerpts contained references to the leaking roller chock, and AHC claimed they were the only minutes relevant to Dowling's claim.
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971 F.2d 423 *; 1992 U.S. App. LEXIS 17590 **; 92 Cal. Daily Op. Service 6772; 92 Daily Journal DAR 10817; 1992 AMC 2856
KEVIN T. DOWLING, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. AMERICAN HAWAII CRUISES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. D.C. No. CV-89-00652-ACK. Alan C. Kay, District Judge, Presiding.
minutes, safety committee, self-critical, discovery, district court, roller, chock, ship, interrogatories, manufacturers, confidential, hazards, privileged, routine
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Discovery & Disclosure, General Overview, Discovery, Methods of Discovery, Evidence, Privileges, Privileged Communications, Relevance of Discoverable Information, Government Privileges, Official Information Privilege, Self-Critical Analysis Privilege