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Cardozo Law Review

For over 120 years prior to United States v. Reliable Transfer Co., American maritime courts were obliged to apply the rule of divided damages upon the finding of mutual fault by vessels in collision. Numerous presumptions were developed that worked in conjunction with the doctrine of divided damages. The presumption known as the Pennsylvania rule was established by the United States Supreme Court in The Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania rule interacted with the rule of divided damages by shifting the burden of proof as to causation to a vessel shown to be in violation of a statute intended to prevent collisions. Hence, a vessel that committed a minor infraction of a navigational rule often was forced to divide damages equally with a vessel far more culpable.

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