Articles Posted in Admiralty & Maritime 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 Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Vessel on a competing maritime lien claim brought against it by ING and Chemoil under the Commercial Instruments and Maritime Liens Act (CIMLA), 46 U.S.C. 31301. The claims arose from the provision of bunkers (marine fuel) to the Vessel. The district court also reduced the principal amount and interest rate posted by Cobelfret, the charterer of the Vessel, to secure the Vessel's release from arrest. The court held that, where, as here, security was posted and a vessel was released, Civ. P. Admiralty Supp R. E(5)(a) empowered the court to reduce security. In this case, the district court found that Cobelfret had shown good cause for reducing security. The court held that the district court committed no legal error in imposing an interest rate other than the 6% rate mentioned in Rule E(5), nor did the district court abuse its discretion in determining that there was "good cause shown" for reducing the interest rate to 3.5%. View "ING Bank N.V. v. M/V Maritime King" on Justia Law

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A maritime lien may be asserted by an entity when that entity contracts with a vessel's owner, charterer, or other statutorily-authorized person for the provision of necessaries and the necessaries are supplied pursuant to that agreement even if by another party. This appeal arose from competing maritime lien claims arising from the delivery of fuel to a vessel between the assignee of a maritime fuel contract supplier and the physical supplier. The district court denied both maritime liens sua sponte and entered summary judgment for the vessel. At issue was which parties were entitled to the maritime lien under the Commercial Instruments and Maritime Liens Act (CIMLA), 46 U.S.C. 31301 et seq. The Second Circuit held that an entity such as O.W. Denmark, which agreed to supply necessaries and then contracts with one or more intermediaries to supply them, can itself be deemed to have "provided" necessaries under CIMLA. Therefore, ING, as O.W. Denmark's purported assignee, was entitled to assert a maritime lien against the vessel because O.W. Denmark could assert such a lien. The court also held that an unsecured entity such as CEPSA was not entitled to a maritime lien for the bunkers it supplied, or in the alternative, a recovery based upon equitable principles. Finally, the district court erred when it sua sponte granted summary judgment for the vessel. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "ING Bank N.V. v. M/V TEMARA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit seeking enforcement of an English judgment against defendant for failure to tender payment under a freight-derivative contract and asserted admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1333(1). The Second Circuit vacated the district court's holding that admiralty jurisdiction did not exist. The court held that, considering plaintiff's identity as a shipping business together with the substance of the agreement, the agreement's principal objective was to further plaintiff's shipping business. Therefore, the court held that the agreement was a maritime contract subject to federal‐court jurisdiction under section 1333(1). The court remanded for further proceedings. View "d'Amico Dry Ltd. v. Primera Maritime (Hellas) Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of DC-Rendite's motion for a maritime attachment and garnishment under Rule B of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. In this classic quasi in rem proceeding, the court held that DC-Rendite's complaint and affidavit did not allege sufficient allegations that identifiable property of defendants, tangible or intangible, was in the hands of garnishees. Even assuming that defendants and garnishees were somehow affiliates or subsidiaries of the same group, it did not follow that there was a specific entitlement of one of the defendants to a debt owed by a garnishee. View "DS-Rendite v. Essar Capital Americas" on Justia Law

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After claimant was injured while inspecting a moored barge, he filed claims against the barge company as his employer, the owner of the barge, and the operator of the rock processing facility, under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30101‐30106, the Longshore and Harbor Workersʹ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. 901‐950, general maritime law, and New York state law. The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Jones Act claims because claimant did not qualify as a ʺseamanʺ within the meaning of the Jones Act. However, the court held that the district court erred in dismissing certain of claimant's remaining claims against the owner of the barge and the operator of the rock processing facility. In this case, the district court erred in dismissing the LHWCA claim against Franz to the extent it was based on the alleged breach of Franzʹs duty, as owner, to turn over a reasonably safe vessel; and the state law claims against Tilcon for negligence, gross negligence, and violation of N.Y. Labor Law 200. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re Complaint of Buchanan Marine, L.P." on Justia Law

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Ficarra filed suit against petitioner, asserting claims of negligence stemming from a tort involving a vessel on navigable waters. More specifically, the case involves a diving accident off a recreational vessel anchored in shallow but navigable lake waters. The district court concluded that there was no admiralty jurisdiction here and reasoned that a recreational injury occurring on a recreational vessel anchored in a shallow recreational bay of navigable waters could not disrupt maritime commerce and did not bear a sufficient relationship to traditional maritime activity. Although the court concluded that the district court correctly articulated the Supreme Court’s modern test for admiralty tort jurisdiction, the court respectfully disagreed with its conclusion that jurisdiction is lacking here. The Supreme Court instructed the court that, “ordinarily,” “every tort involving a vessel on navigable waters falls within the scope of admiralty jurisdiction.” Therefore, petitioner's appeal of the dismissal of his petition seeking exoneration from or limitation of liability was proper, and the district court has jurisdiction over that petition. The court reversed and remanded. View "In Re Petition of Bruce Germain" on Justia Law

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Hicks was a deckhand on a tugboat when, while handling heavy gear, he injured his shoulder. A company doctor determined that Hicks was not fit for duty. His employer acknowledged its obligation to pay maintenance and cure and medical expenses until full recovery, maximum improvement, or until his condition was declared permanent, 46 U.S.C. 30104 (Jones Act). Hicks had surgery and physical therapy. His employer hired an investigator to videotape Hicks surreptitiously. The video showed Hicks planting a small tree and playing with his grandson. When Hicks’s doctor requested funding for an MRI scan, he was shown this footage and told that Hicks’s job required only light lifting. The doctor determined that Hicks was fit for duty. The employer terminated payments. Hicks consulted a second doctor, who diagnosed a recurrent rotator cuff tear and recommended another surgery plus rehabilitation. Under financial pressure, Hicks returned to work and missed physical therapy. His house went into foreclosure, and he was unable to pay for health insurance. Hicks sued, claiming negligence under the Jones Act and the maritime doctrines of unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure. The jury awarded $190,000 for past and future maintenance and cure and $132,000 for pain and suffering. Based on a finding that the failure to pay was unreasonable and willful, Hicks was awarded $123,000 in punitive damages and $112,083.77 in attorney’s fees. The Second Circuit affirmed. View "Hicks v. Vane Line Bunkering, Inc." on Justia Law

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From 1987 to 2001, Bengis and Noll engaged in a scheme to harvest large quantities of South Coast and West Coast rock lobsters from South African waters for export to the United States in violation of both South African and U.S. law. Defendants, through their company, Hout Bay, harvested rock lobsters in amounts that exceeded the South African Department of Marine and Coastal Management’s quotas. In 2001, South Africa seized a container of unlawfully harvested lobsters, declined to prosecute the individuals, but charged Hout Bay with overfishing. Bengis pleaded guilty on behalf of Hout Bay. South Africa cooperated with a parallel investigation conducted by the United States. The two pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit smuggling and violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in illegally taken fish and wildlife, and to substantive violations of the Lacey Act. Bengis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. The district court entered a restitution order requiring the defendants to pay $22,446,720 to South Africa. The Second Circuit affirmed, except with respect to the extent of Bengis’s liability, rejecting an argument the restitution order violated their Sixth Amendment rights. View "United States v. Bengis" on Justia Law

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In 1953, New York and New Jersey entered into the Waterfront Commission Act, establishing the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to govern operations at the Port of New York‐New Jersey. At that time, individual pieces of cargo were loaded onto trucks, driven to the pier, and then unloaded for loading, piece‐by‐piece, onto the vessel. Similarly, arriving cargo was handled piece-by-piece. Containerization transformed shipping: a shipper loads cargo into a large container, which is loaded onto a truck and transported to the pier, where it is lifted aboard a ship. Continental operates warehouses, including one at 112 Port Jersey Boulevard, Jersey City. Continental picks up containers from the Global Marine Terminal, transports them to the Warehouse, unloads them, and removes their contents. Continental stores the freight and provides other services, such as sampling, weighing. and wrapping. In 2011, the Commission advised Continental that it was required to obtain a stevedore license, concluding that the property line and building of the 112 Warehouse were within 1,000 yards of a pier. Continental sought a declaratory judgment. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court holding that Continental engages in stevedoring activities at the warehouse and that the warehouse is an ʺother waterfront terminalʺ under the Act and within the Commission’s jurisdiction. View "Cont'l Terminals, Inc. v. Waterfront Comm'n of N.Y. Harbor" on Justia Law