by
In 2014, Vesuvius and ACBL entered into a shipping contract to transport olivine sand from New Orleans to Vesuvius’s Wurtland, Kentucky facility by river barge. The January 2015 shipment arrived at the discharge port on February 20. Vesuvius’s employees inspected the cargo, found it damaged by excess moisture, and notified ACBL. ACBL arranged for a surveyor to perform an inspection that same day. The surveyor found no structural defect in the barge and concluded that the sand was wet when it was loaded. In transit, some of that water evaporated, condensed on the overhead portion of the cargo space, and dripped back onto the sand. The surveyor filed his report with ACBL on February 23. ACBL promptly contacted Vesuvius to disclaim any liability. On February 1, 2017, Vesuvius filed suit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of the case. The contract contained a clear limitations provision requiring the parties to bring disputes within four months of an incident. Standing on its own, the limitations provision might be ambiguous, but read in context with the rest of the contract, there is no question that Vesuvius was required to file suit no later than four months after it discovered the damage. View "Vesuvius USA, Corp. v. American Commercial Lines, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in an action brought under 33 U.S.C. 1904(h). In section 1904(h), Congress gave a ship unreasonably detained or delayed, on suspicion of intentionally discharging oil and other contaminants into the sea, a cause of action to recover any loss or damage suffered thereby. The court held that the Coast Guard acted reasonably in detaining a vessel for nearly six months pending a criminal trial after its owner and operator failed to meet the government's security bond demands. The court measured the reasonableness of the Coast Guard's actions by an objective standard and found that the Coast Guard set a reasonable monetary bond, and that the nonmonetary components of the bond demand contributed nothing to the owner's losses. View "Angelex, Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Under 46 U.S.C. 31342(a), the bunker supplier would be entitled to a maritime lien if it provided necessaries to a vessel on the order of the owner or a person authorized by the owner. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against Bunker Holdings, a supplier of bunkers (marine fuel) in the supplier's in rem action for a maritime lien against a container ship. The panel held that, under United States law, Bunker Holdings was not entitled to a maritime lien, because it did not provide the bunkers on the order of the owner or a person authorized by the owner of the vessel. View "Bunker Holdings, Ltd. v. Yang Ming Liberia Corp." on Justia Law

by
After an underwater sonar device (towfish) used by Tesla struck the mooring line of an offshore drilling rig owned by Shell, Shell filed suit against Tesla and International, the company who chartered a vessel for Tesla to pull the towfish, seeking damages arising from the accident. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Shell and apportioned 75% of the liability to Tesla and 25% to International. Tesla and International appealed, and while the appeal was pending, Tesla and Shell entered into a settlement agreement. The district court subsequently determined that Tesla was entitled to contribution from International toward the settlement amount. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment holding that International's vessel was a towing vessel and subject to towing regulations. The court also affirmed the jury's allocation of fault and the district court's calculation of the contribution owed by International. View "Shell Offshore, Inc. v. Tesla Offshore, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment determination that Nature's Way, as the owner of a tugboat, was also "operating" an oil barge that the tugboat was moving at the time of a collision, as the term was used in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA). The court held that the ordinary and natural meaning of "operating" under the statute would apply to the exclusive navigational control that Nature's Way exercised over the barge at the time of the collision. Therefore, the National Pollution Funds Center violated the Administrative Procedures Act by determining that Nature's Way was an operator of the barge and thus denying reimbursement on the grounds that its liability should be limited by the tonnage of the tugboat and not the tonnage of the barges. View "United States v. Nature's Way Marine, LLC" on Justia Law

by
After a marine accident that resulted in damages estimated to exceed $60 million, Valero, Shell and Motiva asked the court to resolve whether the excess insurers of one of the involved vessels may limit their liability to that of the insured vessel. The district court held that the Protection and Indemnity policy covering the vessel has a Crown Zellerbach clause thereby permitting the excess insurers to limit their liability to that of the insured vessel. The Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal based on lack of appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(3), holding that the district court's Order and Reasons failed to determine the rights and liabilities of the parties. The court found no compelling reason to distinguish between a district court's determination of a contractual entitlement rather than statutory entitlement to limit liability. The court joined the Eleventh Circuit in holding that neither decision was reviewable on appeal under section 1292(a)(3). View "SCF Waxler Marine, LLC v. Aris T M/V" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's 132 month sentence for drug trafficking under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. The court held that the Fifth Amendment did not entitle defendant to relief from his mandatory minimum sentence; in light of international concerns, Congress was entitled to mete out hefty sentences to maritime drug runners; the inherent difficulties of policing drug trafficking on the vast expanses of international waters suggested that Congress could have rationally concluded that harsh penalties were needed to deter would-be offenders; circuit precedents foreclosed defendant's arguments about the constitutionality of the Act and its application to him; and defendant's guilty plea foreclosed his constitutional challenges to his detention. View "United States v. Lemus Castillo" on Justia Law

by
In an action under maritime law, a boat owner filed suit against his friend, who was driving the boat when it crashed into a passenger ferry. After the friend died from his injuries, his wife filed suit against the owner and GGB, which owns the ferry. The owner filed a cross-claim against GGB and a counterclaim against the wife. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to the owner. The panel applied maritime law and held that a boat owner who is a passenger on his boat has no duty to keep a lookout unless the owner-passenger knows that the person operating his boat is likely to be inattentive or careless or the owner-passenger was jointly operating the boat at the time of the accident. The panel also held that joint operation is not viewed over the course of the entire trip, but instead at the time immediately preceding and concurrent with the accident. View "Holzhauer v. Rhoades" on Justia Law

by
A Himalaya Clause that protects downstream carriers from suit by a cargo owner does not, in and of itself, limit the cargo owner's ability to receive the recovery to which it is entitled. After Royal SMIT's transformers were damaged during shipment from the Netherlands to Louisiana, Royal SMIT and its insurers filed suit against the carriers with whom the intermediary had contracted. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the carriers, holding that the through bill of lading’s Himalaya Clause protected downstream carriers from being sued by Royal. The court rejected Royal's claims that there was a material issue of fact as to whether the parties agreed to be bound by the Himalaya Clause and held that Royal failed to articulate a basis for overriding the clear terms of the through bill of lading. View "Royal SMIT Transformers BV v. Onego Shipping & Chartering, BV" on Justia Law

by
Andromeda and Internaves entered into a shipping contract that unambiguously required the parties to submit their dispute to arbitration. At issue on appeal was where the parties agreed to arbitrate. The district court was unable to determine the site of arbitration and resorted to the statutory default forum, compelling arbitration in its own district. The court reversed and remanded with instructions to compel arbitration in London under English law. The court held that the parties' intention to arbitrate in London was discernible from the very terms they wrote into the contract and thus the parties provided for the forum, which the district court was obliged to recognize and uphold. View "Internaves de Mexico S.A. de C.V. v. Andromeda Steamship Corp." on Justia Law