Jensen Doctrine Law and Legal Definition
Jensen Doctrine is a principle applicable to Maritime law. It says state statute shall not apply in a maritime case if to do so would work material prejudice to the characteristic features of the general maritime law or interfere with the proper harmony and uniformity of that law. The standard was set forth in the case, S. Pac. Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205 (U.S. 1917), where an employee was killed while unloading lumber from a ship owned by employer, a railroad company. The employee's family filed a claim for death benefits under Workmen's Compensation Act of New York. The claim was approved and employer sought review. The Court reversed the award to employee's family because the Act was unconstitutional in that it applied liability to foreign companies beyond the state legislature's authority. Moreover the court held that the Act's remedies were incapable to being enforced by courts and were contrary to Congress's attempt to encourage investments in ships by limiting ship owner's liability.