Legal News

Second Circuit addresses division of liability in vessel collision

In Otal Investements, Ltd. v. M/V TRICOLOR, et al, the Second Circuit faced a collision in the English Channel.  On a foggy night in the English Channel nine years ago, the M/V KARIBA approached the M/V CLARY and altered course to avoid her.  Alas, the M/V KARIBA struck the M/V TRICOLOR, which subsequently sank.  The district … Read More »

Be careful what you put in your emails: it could affect your maritime lien

The Fifth Circuit recently issued an unpublished opinion in World Fuel Services v. Magdalena Green MV regarding maritime liens.  World Fuel Services provided $167,339.68 in (expectedly) fuel services to the M/V MAGDALENA GREEN, as part of its time charter party with S.E. Shipping Lines. After World Fuel Services provided the fuel and S.E. Shipping Lines provided … Read More »

Louisiana, Washington district courts divide sharply on punitive damage for arbitrary and capricious denial of maintenance and cure

Following the Supreme Court’s opinion in Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend, nary a Jones Act seaman’s complaint is filed without the plaintiff alleging his entitlement to punitive damages because his or her employer has willfully, wantonly, arbitrarily and capriciously deprived him or her of punitive damages. Along with the plaintiffs’ demands, defendants have dusted off their defenses … Read More »

Fifth Circuit cuts with a thin knife, ruling the jury committed error when it concluded a railroad worker’s arthritis was caused by his work

“For nearly 40 years,” the Fifth Circuit explained, “Harold Huffman worked for the Union Pacific Railroad.”  In one of the growing list of injury-over-time suits, Mr. Huffman filed suit against Union Pacific under FELA, claiming he suffered from osteoarthritis to his knee as a result of his forty years of hard work.  After the jury found Union Pacific was … Read More »

Jones Act seaman suffers rare hat trick, losing on Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure, all on summary judgment

James Lett was an engineer and Jones Act seaman for Omega Protein, Inc.  He alleged he was injured over the course of a few days in September of 2008 when he used a needle gun in the engine room to remove paint and rust.  Thanks to the too-small tool, the cramped quarters, and Omega’s failure … Read More »

House Boat: House or Boat?

The Supreme Court has recently granted certioriari to settle a circuit split regarding the definition of vessel.  In 1 U.S.C. § 3, a vessel is “every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.”  The question arises:  what, specifically, does “capable of being used” … Read More »

Fifth Circuit: Despite similarities, federal Magistrate judges, unlike Bankruptcy judges, have Article III powers. Court then clarifies application of Eight Corners Doctrine

Technical Automation Services Corp. v Liberty Surplus Insurance Corp. In Technical Automation Serv’s Corp. v Liberty Surplus Ins. Corp., No. 10-20640, slip copy (5th Cir. March 5, 2012), the Fifth Circuit discussed the power of magistrate judges when it raised, sua sponte, the question of whether magistrate judges have the jurisdictional authority to enter judgment … Read More »

Fifth Circuit agrees that the Army Corps of Engineers exacerbated some of the damage from Hurricane Katrina

In Re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation After Hurricane Katrina, some residents of New Orleans argued the Army Corps of Engineers had improperly maintained the MRGO (Mississippi River Gulf Outlet), dredging it to keep it navigable but not ensuring the levies were properly maintained. Judge Duval in the Eastern District, in his lengthy and careful decisions, … Read More »

The Seventh Circuit Holds Tug Pushing Discharging Barge is “Vessel … Which Poses the Substantial Threat of a Discharge of Oil” under OPA90

Egan Marine Corporation, et al v. Great American Insurance Company of New York, 665 F.3d 800 (7th Cir. 2011). On January 19, 2005, tank barge EMC 423 exploded and discharged slurry oil into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  The barge lacked any means of self-propulsion, navigation, or crew.  It was being pushed by tugboat … Read More »

Eastern District of Louisiana clarifies bareboat charter’s duties

Stewart et al v. Lester J. Plaisance, Inc. et al, E.D.La. February 27, 2011 The Eastern District of Louisiana (Judge Berrigan) held that a charterer could be found negligent for a defective condition onboard a vessel that causes injury despite the charterer not having operational control at the time of the accident.  In Stewart et … Read More »