Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Galiea LLC v. AGCS Marine Ins. Co. (9th Cir. - Jan. 16, 2018)

I've never been a scholar of Plato.  I've read the guy, sure.  But not a ton.  Nonetheless, I recognize the guy's a stud.  Name all the people you know from 2000 years ago.  Yeah.  Thought so.  When you're in a group of a dozen or so people, that's a pretty significant accomplishment.

So when the guy speaks, I listen.

Judge Berzon begins her opinion today with a quote from the guy.  And it's surely an appropriate quote for the context -- an insurance policy that covered a yacht that wrecked in Panama.  She says:

"“The sea, although an agreeable, is a dangerous companion,” wrote Plato more than two millennia ago."

Cool.  Never read that one before.  Awesome.

But I have a question.  One that may admittedly demonstrate my ignorance.  Lest that should ever stop me.

Doesn't that middle clause have to have a noun in it?

It's not that Judge Berzon gets the quote wrong.  Everything I've seen recites the passage the same way.

But "agreeable" is an adjective, right?

So I could see the sentence reading:  "The sea, although agreeable, is a dangerous companion."  Or, "The sea, though an agreeable one, is a dangerous companion."  Or even "The sea is an agreeable, although dangerous, companion."  Those all make sense to me.

But "The sea, although an agreeable, is a dangerous companion" just strikes me as sounding strange. I'm trying but failing to come up with an analogy; a different sentence that describes an X as being "an [adjective]" in a subordinate clause followed by an adjective/noun combination.  I'm sure that one probably exists; I just can't come up with one.  And it sounds weird.

None of this, of course, is Plato's fault.  He wrote in Greek.  I'm sure it makes total sense in the original.

The translation just strikes me as a bit off.  Or at least unusual.  Maybe that's the point?

Anyway, you can read the whole opinion if you'd like.  Though I'll warn you at the outset that spending some time pondering Plato may be slightly more enthralling than deciding whether arbitration provisions in maritime insurance policies are enforceable despite law in the forum state that precludes its application pursuant to the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1012 (which shields state insurance laws from federal preemption) and the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 1–16 (which provides for enforcement of arbitration provisions in maritime contracts).

But, hey, that's the dispositive issue here.  So that's what the court decides.