Nancy Buccina; Scot A. Buccina, Plaintiffs-Appellees/Cross-Appellants,
Linda Ann Grimsby, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Ohio at Toledo. No. 3:14-cv-02434-James G. Carr,
T. Winchester, Jesse M. Schmidt, MCNEAL SCHICK, ARCHIBALD
& BIRO, CO., LPA, Cleveland, Ohio, for
Christopher D. Kuebler, RAY ROBINSON LAW CO., LPA, Cleveland,
Ohio, for Appellees/Cross-Appellants.
Before: BATCHELDER, SUTTON, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.
SUTTON, Circuit Judge.
Ann Grimsby invited her friend Nancy Buccina to take a boat
trip on Lake Erie. Toward the end of the voyage, the boat hit
a wave, jarring the passengers and injuring Nancy. Nancy and
her husband Scot sued. A jury found that Grimsby was not
negligent. But the district court granted Nancy and
Scot's motion for a new trial on the ground that the
evidence did not support the verdict. Grimsby filed an
interlocutory appeal, and the Buccinas cross-appealed. Both
sides think we may entertain their appeals thanks to an
interlocutory exception to the final judgment rule that
applies to admiralty cases. But the exception does not apply
because the Buccinas chose to pursue their claims under
ordinary civil procedures, as the relevant rule and case law
permits. We dismiss the appeals for lack of jurisdiction.
2012, Linda Ann Grimsby invited Nancy Buccina and one other
friend to join her on a 17-foot motor boat to waterski on
Lake Erie. After skiing, the group decided to take a trip
down the Maumee River, which runs into the lake at Toledo.
Grimsby navigated the vessel while Nancy sat in the front.
The vessel hit an unexpected wave, likely caused by the wake
of other boats. Nancy bounced up from her seat and came down
hard on it. Grimsby steered the boat to a local Coast Guard
station where Nancy received medical attention.
and her husband Scot Buccina sued Grimsby in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio for
personal injury and loss of consortium, invoking the
court's diversity and admiralty jurisdiction. At the same
time, they pleaded that "this action is not to be deemed
an 'admiralty and maritime claim' within the meaning
of" Rule 9 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
choice that guaranteed them a jury trial as opposed to the
bench trial that defendants may force plaintiffs to undergo
in admiralty cases. R.1 at 1-2.
trip through federal court has taken much longer than their
voyage. It has prompted nearly a half-dozen district court
opinions, a jury trial, and (to date) two opinions from our
court. In 2015, the district court held that the incident
fell within the court's admiralty jurisdiction, meaning
that federal maritime law controlled the duty of care. In
2016, the court held that a boat hitting a wave did not count
as a "collision" under the Coast Guard Navigation
Rules. The district court certified the question for
interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). But
there was no "substantial ground for a difference of
opinion" about the answer that would justify an
interlocutory appeal, we determined, and thus we opted not to
accept the appeal. In re Buccina, 657 Fed.Appx. 350,
351 (6th Cir. 2016).
remand, a jury ruled for Grimsby, finding that she was not
negligent. The Buccinas moved for a new trial under Civil
Rule 59(a) or judgment notwithstanding the verdict under
Civil Rule 50(b). The district court granted the motion for a
appealed, and the Buccinas cross-appealed.
jurisdiction typically extends only to final judgments. 28
U.S.C. § 1291. The district court's new-trial
decision is the epitome of a non-final order. The case will
not end until after the new trial. See ...