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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The DC Circuit dismissed Matson's petition for review of three of the Maritime Administration's orders approving APL's requested replacement vessels in the Maritime Security Fleet. At issue was whether the three orders were issued pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 50501 or any other statute listed in the Hobbs Act vesting exclusive jurisdiction in the courts of appeals. The court held that Matson failed to file a timely petition for review; even if MARAD forfeited a timeliness defense, Matson had no vessels in the fleet and was therefore not a contractor for whom MARAD's regulation provided an administrative appeal; and the 2016 and 2017 Approval Orders did not trigger Hobbs Act jurisdiction. View "Matson Navigation Company, Inc. v. DOT" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Carrizo in an action stemming from a contract to plug and abandon oil wells. In the underlying action, a Crescent employee was severely injured. Crescent and its insurers denied that indemnity was owed despite the contractual language, and argued that Louisiana’s Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act applied. The court held that the contract between Crescent and Carrizo was a maritime contract, because the contract was to facilitate the drilling or production of oil and gas on navigable waters, and the contract anticipated the constant and substantial use of multiple vessels. Therefore, federal law was applicable in this case and the Louisiana Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act was inapplicable. View "In re: Crescent Energy Service" on Justia Law

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Leopard Marine sought a declaratory judgment that a maritime lien held by Easy Street, a Cypriot fuel supply company, has been extinguished by laches. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to decline to abstain on grounds of international comity and issued a declaration that laches barred exercise of the lien. The court held that the federal courts have jurisdiction to declare a maritime lien unenforceable, even where the vessel was not present in the district, so long as its owner consents to adjudication of rights in the lien. In this case, the court held that abstention on the basis of international comity was not required and thus the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that laches barred exercise of the lien. View "Leopard Marine & Trading, Ltd. v. Easy Street Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted TKM's, the intervenor plaintiff, motion for panel rehearing and denied the motion for rehearing en banc. The court withdrew the prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. Daewoo filed suit against AMT, seeking an order compelling AMT to arbitrate and an attachment of pig iron owned by AMT. TKM attached the same pig iron in Louisiana state court and then intervened in the federal suit. The court held that it had subject matter jurisdiction under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, because Daewoo's suit related to a covered arbitration agreement. In this case, the parties dispute whether Louisiana's non-resident attachment statute allowed for attachment in aid of arbitration. The court declined to adopt a categorical approach to this issue and held that, because Louisiana law allowed for attachment in aid of yet-to-be-brought actions, non-resident attachment may be available in aid of arbitration when an eventual confirmation suit was contemplated. The court affirmed the district court's judgment, nonetheless, because Daewoo did not strictly comply with the attachment statute's procedural requirements. View "Stemcor USA Inc. v. Cia Siderurgica do Para Cosipar" on Justia Law