DAVID R. THOMPSON, Circuit Judge:
Appellant Jeffrey Lynn Trentacosta appeals from the district court's dismissal of his claims against all defendants except Aero Dinamico ("Aero"). In his first amended complaint, Trentacosta invoked jurisdiction solely on the basis of a Jones Act claim under 46 U.S.C. § 688. He also alleged federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Trentacosta did not allege admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333, nor did he state his claim was an admiralty or maritime claim under Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The district court, in ruling on a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, determined that Trentacosta had not been an employee of any defendant other than Aero at the time he was injured. Absent any employer/employee relationship between Trentacosta and any defendant except Aero, Trentacosta's Jones Act claim against all defendants except Aero was dismissed. Jurisdiction over the remaining claims was pendent to the Jones Act claim, and when the Jones Act claim was dismissed, the district court dismissed the remaining pendent claims against all defendants except Aero. Trentacosta was left with only his Jones Act and other pendent claims against Aero. In a motion for reconsideration, Trentacosta requested leave to amend his complaint to allege subject matter jurisdiction over the dismissed non-Jones Act claims. The district court denied, without comment, the motion for reconsideration, including Trentacosta's request for leave to amend.
The district court entered its order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) certifying this case for appellate review. We have jurisdiction pursuant to that order and 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm the district court's dismissal of Trentacosta's Jones Act claim against all defendants except Aero. We reverse the district court's denial of Trentacosta's request for leave to amend his complaint to allege subject matter jurisdiction. In the event Trentacosta amends his complaint to set forth subject matter jurisdiction over the dismissed claims (other than the dismissed Jones Act claims), the district court's order dismissing those claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction shall be set aside.
Aero entered into a written contract with the tuna fishing vessel M/V Sea Queen to provide a helicopter, pilot, and helicopter mechanic to assist the Sea Queen in locating schools of tuna during a fishing trip. Aero's contract with the Sea Queen contained the following clause:
As part of this contract, Aero agreed to indemnify the Sea Queen against any liability for personal injuries connected in any
Aero hired Trentacosta to work as a helicopter mechanic. His written employment contract with Aero described him as an independent contractor employed by Aero "as a mechanic aboard the M/V Sea Queen." The term of his employment was for the duration of the fishing trip. He was to be paid by Aero $9.00 per ton of processed fish caught during the trip in excess of the first fifty tons.
While at sea aboard the Sea Queen, Trentacosta was injured. He caught his hand in a helicopter engine fan blade while working on the helicopter. He brought suit in the United States district court against the helicopter operator, its owners, and others having a connection with it ("the helicopter defendants"), and against the vessel, its captain and its owners ("the vessel defendants"). Trentacosta's claims against the helicopter and vessel defendants were based on negligence, liability under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure. Trentacosta also alleged claims against the helicopter defendants based on negligence and strict products liability. In his statement of jurisdiction, Trentacosta did not invoke admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333. He used the words "Jones Act and General Maritime Law" in the title of what he designated as his first cause of action, but this was not sufficient to invoke the court's admiralty jurisdiction when he expressly claimed jurisdiction in his complaint exclusively under the Jones Act and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. See Alleman v. Bunge Corp., 756 F.2d 344, 345 (5th Cir.1984).
The defendants moved to dismiss Trentacosta's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. They contended he was not a seaman within the meaning of the Jones Act and was not an employee of any defendant.
Trentacosta did not file a timely response to the motion to dismiss. When he did respond, he presented no affidavit or other evidentiary matter in opposition to the motion to dismiss but instead argued that the issue of whether he was an employee of the defendants within the meaning of the Jones Act was a factual one for the jury. The district court granted the motion to dismiss as to all defendants and as to all claims, except for Trentacosta's Jones Act and pendent claims against Aero. Trentacosta and Aero filed motions to alter or amend the order, or in the alternative for reconsideration. Both motions were denied.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The district court's determination of subject matter jurisdiction under the Jones Act is a question of law and is reviewed de novo. Rodriguez v. Flota Mercante Grancolombiana, S.A., 703 F.2d 1069, 1071 n. 2 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 820, 104 S.Ct. 84, 78 L.Ed.2d 94 (1983). The interpretation of a contract is a mixed question of law and fact subject to de novo review. Hahn v. Oregon Physicians' Service, 786 F.2d 1353, 1355 (9th Cir.1985). Factual findings are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard. United States v. Lembke Constr. Co., 786 F.2d 1386, 1387-88 (9th Cir.1986). The denial of a motion to amend is reviewed for abuse of discretion. M/V American Queen v. San Diego Marine Constr. Corp., 708 F.2d 1483, 1492 (9th Cir.1983).
MOTION TO DISMISS
A. Dismissal of Jones Act Claims
In its dismissal order the district court stated:
Trentacosta contends the helicopter agreement between Aero and the Sea Queen, and Trentacosta's employment contract with Aero, are "void insofar as they purport to deny Trentacosta his status as an employee and his rights under the Jones Act." He argues the vessel defendants and the helicopter defendants manipulated the two contracts in an attempt to avoid Trentacosta being anyone's employee in order to defeat his rights under the Jones Act. Trentacosta offered no declaration or other evidence to support this contention. He did not present any evidence of the invalidity or illegality of the contracts. The contracts were before the district court at the time it ruled on the defendants' motion to dismiss, and there is nothing on the face of either contract to warrant a finding that either document is void as against public policy.
Trentacosta also contends that notwithstanding his failure to file any affidavit or other evidentiary material in opposition to the defendants' motion to dismiss, a genuine issue of material fact was raised by the defendants' motion and his counsel's memorandum.
The district court would have had subject matter jurisdiction over Trentacosta's Jones Act claim only if the defendants had been his employers within the meaning of that Act. See Rodriguez v. Flota Mercante Grancolombia-NA, S.A., 703 F.2d 1069, 1072 (9th Cir.1983) (court may dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction if seaman's employer not employer within meaning of Act). Thus, the facts relevant to determining subject matter jurisdiction go directly to the merits of Trentacosta's claim and the district court should have applied summary judgment standards to the motion to dismiss. Because our review is de novo, we can determine if, under summary judgment standards, the court properly dismissed the Jones Act claim.
A moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law if the nonmoving party fails "to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of [his] case with respect to which [he] has the burden of proof." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). When a defendant files a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground he is not a Jones Act employer, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant is an employer within the meaning of the statute. Rodriguez, 703 F.2d at 1072. If a defendant files a "speaking motion" to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, as appellees did here, the plaintiff "cannot rest on the mere assertion that factual issues can exist." Exchange Nat'l Bank of Chicago v. Touche Ross & Co., 544 F.2d 1126, 1131 (2d Cir.1976) (cited with approval in Thornhill Publishing Co., 594 F.2d at 733). He must come forward with evidence outside his pleadings to support his jurisdictional allegation. Exchange Nat'l Bank, 544 F.2d at 1131; 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1363, at 653-54 (1969). As stated by Wright & Miller:
Id. (footnotes omitted).
The requirement that the nonmoving party present evidence outside his pleadings in opposition to a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is the same as that required under Rule 56(e) that the nonmoving party to a motion for summary judgment must set forth specific facts, beyond his pleadings, to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp., 106 S.Ct. at 2553; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).
In his opposition to the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Trentacosta did not present any evidence outside his pleadings to show that the vessel defendants were his employers within the meaning of the Jones Act. The defendants' motion to dismiss and supporting evidentiary papers challenged the existence of facts which were alleged to provide subject matter jurisdiction and presented evidence which supported their contention that Trentacosta was not the employee of any defendant (except perhaps Aero).
We conclude that the district court properly dismissed Trentacosta's Jones Act claim against all defendants except Aero.
B. Dismissal of Remaining Claims
In his amended complaint, Trentacosta titled his first claim for relief as being brought under the "Jones Act and General Maritime Law." Under that claim he included an allegation that the vessel was unseaworthy. He also set forth claims for "Maintenance and Cure," "Negligence," and "Products Liability." But he was careful to invoke federal jurisdiction only under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and not admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333 or Rule 9(h).
A plaintiff need not identify a maritime claim as a claim within the district court's admiralty jurisdiction if the claim is "cognizable only in admiralty." Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(h). See supra note 1. Trentacosta's maritime claims were not "cognizable only in admiralty," but were joined as pendent claims under the jurisdictional grant provided in the Jones Act. See Romero v. International Terminal Operating Co., 358 U.S. 354, 380-81, 79 S.Ct. 468, 484-85, 3 L.Ed.2d 368 (1959) (noting that pendent federal maritime claims may be added to claims brought under the Jones Act). Trentacosta's election to invoke jurisdiction on the "law side" of the court (as opposed to the "admiralty side", 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1)), therefore, precludes our treating his maritime claims as admiralty claims under Rule 9(h). See Alleman v. Bunge Corp., 756 F.2d 344, 345 (5th Cir.1984) (noting consequences attendant to plaintiff's "historic option" to not invoke admiralty jurisdiction under Rule 9(h) (citations omitted).
The proceedings in the district court confirm our conclusion that Trentacosta did not invoke the district court's admiralty jurisdiction. The defendants moved for dismissal claiming Trentacosta was not a seaman, and that the defendants were not
The Fifth Circuit's holding in T.N.T. Marine Service, Inc. v. Weaver Shipyards and Dry Docks, Inc., 702 F.2d 585 (5th Cir.) (T.N.T.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 847, 104 S.Ct. 151, 78 L.Ed.2d 141 (1983), is consistent with our resolution of this jurisdictional issue. In T.N.T., the plaintiff sued the owners of a boat in personam and a tugboat (owned by the defendants) in rem for damages resulting from a sinking. The complaint alleged diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and contained a statement that the suit was brought "for breach of a maritime contract and for maritime tort." The district court ruled that the suit was in admiralty and that the plaintiff was not entitled to a jury trial. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court stated that language in the complaint alleging that the suit was brought "for breach of a maritime contract and for maritime tort" was a sufficient statement to claim admiralty jurisdiction under the first sentence of Rule 9(h); that the suit had also been brought against the "Tug OCEAN WIND, her engines, tackle, apparel, etc. in rem", which made the claim cognizable only in admiralty; and that the plaintiff had elected to bring the suit under the admiralty jurisdiction of the court, notwithstanding that diversity as well as admiralty jurisdiction had been alleged in the complaint. Id. at 587-88.
In the case before us, as we have previously noted, Trentacosta did not allege admiralty jurisdiction nor did his complaint contain a statement invoking admiralty jurisdiction under Rule 9(h). On the contrary, he specifically alleged jurisdiction on the "law side" of the court solely on the basis of his Jones Act claim and federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Moreover, Trentacosta's maritime claims were not cognizable solely in admiralty.
Because Trentacosta specifically elected to file his suit on the "law side" of the court with jurisdiction premised solely on the Jones Act, the district court did not err when, upon dismissing the Jones Act claim against all defendants except Aero, it dismissed all remaining claims against those defendants.
Trentacosta's initial election to proceed on the law side of the court, rather than in admiralty, however, is not irrevocable. Doucet v. Wheless Drilling Company, 467 F.2d 336, 339 (5th Cir.1972) ("Plaintiff's choice of the law side was not an irrevocable one,"); O'Neill v. Cunard White Star, Ltd., 160 F.2d 446, 447 (2nd Cir.), cert. denied, 332 U.S. 773, 68 S.Ct. 56, 92 L.Ed. 358 (1947) ("any ground of substantive jurisdiction will serve to support an action, regardless of the formal amendments
MOTION TO AMEND
In his motion for reconsideration, Trentacosta included a request for leave to amend his complaint to cure "defective allegations of subject matter jurisdiction." The district court denied this motion without comment. On appeal Trentacosta abandoned that portion of his appeal attacking the order denying his motion for reconsideration, but continued to assert that he should have been granted leave to amend the complaint to cure the defective allegations of subject matter jurisdiction.
Leave to amend a complaint should be freely given in the absence of a showing of bad faith or undue delay by the moving party or prejudice to the nonmoving party. Acri v. Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, 781 F.2d 1393, 1398 (9th Cir.1986).
The district court's order dismissing Trentacosta's Jones Act claim against all defendants except Aero is affirmed. The district court's order denying Trentacosta's request for leave to amend his complaint to allege subject matter jurisdiction is reversed. In the event Trentacosta amends his complaint in such manner as will provide the district court with subject matter jurisdiction over the dismissed claims (other than Trentacosta's Jones Act claim against all defendants except Aero), the district court's order dismissing those claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction shall be set aside.
AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.
46 U.S.C. § 688.
To recover under the Jones Act, a plaintiff must prove that (1) he was a seaman at the time he was injured, and (2) the defendant was his employer. Cosmopolitan Shipping Co. v. McAllister, 337 U.S. 783 at 790-91, 69 S.Ct. 1317 at 1321-22, 93 L.Ed. 1692 (1949). In this case, the district court found that Trentacosta was a seaman and this finding is not challenged on appeal.
Id. at 18, 83 S.Ct. at 1649.
The Court stated further: "Only one trier of fact should be used for the trial of what is essentially one lawsuit to settle one claim split conceptually into separate parts because of historical developments." Id. at 21, 83 S.Ct. at 1650. The determination of whether Trentacosta's claims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence is a question which should be resolved in the first instance by the district court. See Newton v. Shipman, 718 F.2d 959, 963 (9th Cir.1983). The district court also has the power "to bifurcate or consolidate trial of separate admiralty and civil claims depending on whether the claims are part of the same basic cause of action." Id. at 963 n. 4 (citation omitted).
Schiavone v. Fortune a/k/a Time Inc., 477 U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2379, 2384, 91 L.Ed.2d 18 (1986). The third factor does not enter into our analysis but the other factors would be satisfied if the amended complaint merely alleged admiralty jurisdiction.