Because inside lights prevented a captain from seeing an oil platform or the radar, and his other errors of failure to maintain a lookout or use the radar were found to be mistakes of navigation, defective navigational aids played no role in the allision and were irrelevant in affirming the vessel’s limit of liability under 46 U.S.C.S. § 30505.
In re: In the Matter of the Complaint of OMEGA PROTEIN, INC, as Owner of Fishing Vessel GULF SHORE, for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability. OMEGA PROTEIN INC., as Owner of Fishing Vessel GULF SHORE, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. SAMSON CONTOUR ENERGY E & P LLC, Defendant-Appellant.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 23312
November 10, 2008, Filed
Plaintiff, the owner of a fishing vessel filed suit for exoneration from or limitation of liability in connection with an incident in which the vessel struck defendant energy company’s oil platform. The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana assigned fault equally between the parties and allowed the vessel owner to limit its liability under 46 U.S.C.S. § 30505. The vessel owner appealed.
There were no neutral witnesses as to the dispute on whether the platform’s lights were working. Thus, that evidence as to the platform’s lighting was at best in equipoise and the district court’s findings that the lights were not on could not be clearly erroneous. Because the district court found the platform was unlit and that if it had been lit, it would have been seen when the captain last scanned the horizon, it correctly disregarded the presumption that the vessel was at fault. The evidence did not compel a finding that outdated or defective navigational aids were a factor. The facts showed statutory violations by both parties, thus, an equal apportionment of fault was not clearly erroneous. The district court found the captain’s decision to turn on certain inside lights (thus creating a “mirror effect” and preventing him from seeing out or viewing the radar) and his failure to maintain a lookout or use radar, as mistakes of navigation. He had had a 20 year spotless record as a pilot and captain. Because defective navigational aids played no role in the allision, they were irrelevant to whether the owner could limit its liability.
The district court’s judgment was affirmed.
In a dispute concerning international maritime contracts where the parties specifically agreed that the arbitration panel would decide whether the arbitration clauses permitted class arbitration, the district court erred by vacating a clause construction award under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq.
STOLT-NIELSEN SA, Stolt-Nielsen Transportation Group Ltd., a Odfjell ASA, Odfjell Seachem AS, Odfjell USA, Inc., Jo Tankers BV, Jo Tankers, Inc., and Tokyo Marine Co. Ltd., Petitioners-Appellees, – v – ANIMALFEEDS INTERNATIONAL CORP., Respondent-Appellant, KP Chemical Corp., Respondent.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 22838
November 4, 2008, Decided
Appellant, an animal feed company, alleged that appellee shipping companies engaged in a global conspiracy to restrain competition in the world market for parcel tanker shipping services. An arbitration panel issued a clause construction award deciding that the parties’ agreements permitted class arbitration. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated the award. Appellant filed an appeal.
Appellant alleged that appellees were involved in a conspiracy to fix the price of international shipments of liquid chemicals in the United States. The parties to this litigation were also parties to international maritime contracts that contained arbitration clauses. The contracts were silent as to whether arbitration was permissible on behalf of a class of contracting parties. The question presented on appeal was whether the arbitration panel, in issuing a clause construction award construing that silence to permit class arbitration, acted in manifest disregard of the law. The district court answered that question in the affirmative and therefore vacated the award. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit concluded to the contrary that the demanding “manifest disregard” standard had not been met. Because the parties specifically agreed that the arbitration panel would decide whether the arbitration clauses permitted class arbitration, the arbitration panel did not exceed its authority in deciding that issue; irrespective of whether it decided the issue correctly.
The judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded to the district court with instructions to deny the petition to vacate.
In a maritime tort action, an injured maritime worker’s negligence claim did not relate back to the worker’s original complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(1)(C) because the defendants to the original claims did not share a similar identity of interest with the defendants to the negligence claim.
CARTER PITRE VERSUS TETRA TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90215
November 6, 2008, Decided
In a seaman’s action for negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure, cross-claimant lessee and defendants, a consulting company and its employee, sought summary judgment in plaintiff worker’s personal injury suit. The worker was employed by defendant lessor, who furnished the lessee with a vessel, equipment, and personnel for drilling offshore oil wells. The lessee sought defense and indemnification from the lessor.
The worker was injured on board a vessel that the lessor provided the lessee. The lessor had (1) a drilling contract with the lessee and (2) a general services contract with the consulting company to provide an employee to function as a company man on board the vessel. The court held that the drilling contract unambiguously required the lessor to indemnify and reimburse the lessee for costs the lessee incurred while defending against the worker’s claims, as well as the attorney fees and costs the lessee incurred in its attempts to seek indemnity from the lessor. The worker’s unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure claims failed because the consulting company and its employee did not own or operate the vessel and were not the worker’s employers. The worker’s negligence claim against the consulting company and its employee arose under general maritime law and was untimely under 46 U.S.C.S. § 30106 because the claim was added more than three years after the date of the injury. The claim did not relate back to the original complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(1)(C) because the consulting company, its employee, and the lessee did not share a similar identity of interest.
The court granted the lessee’s motion for summary judgment for defense and indemnification from the lessor. The court also granted the summary judgment motion of the consulting company and its employee on the worker’s negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure claims.
In an injured employee’s suit against the Port of Portland under general maritime law and the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104, although the Port was a state instrumentality for purposes of state law immunity, summary judgment in favor of the Port was improper as the port was not an arm of the state for purposes of pre-ratification immunity.
JON NORGAARD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. PORT OF PORTLAND, Defendant-Respondent.
COURT OF APPEALS OF OREGON
2008 Ore. App. LEXIS 1661
November 5, 2008, Filed
Appellant employee was injured while working for appellee Port of Portland on a vessel that was providing assistance to a dredge. He applied for and received workers’ compensation benefits. The employee later sued the Port to recover damages under general maritime law and the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 30104. The Multnomah County Circuit Court, Oregon, granted the Port’s motion for summary judgment. The employee appealed.
On review, the employee contended, inter alia, that even if the state itself was immune on the basis of pre-ratification immunity, the Port was not entitled to share in that cloak of immunity because it was not an “arm of the state.” The appellate court agreed and held that although the Port was a state instrumentality for purposes of state law immunity, the Port was not an arm of the state for purposes of pre-ratification immunity because, absent any statutory assumption of the Port’s liabilities by the state, the state had no potential legal liability for the Port’s liabilities. The Port was financially independent from the state and the state was not a real, substantial party in interest when the Port was sued. As such, the Port was not entitled to immunity from the employee’s federal law action under the doctrine of pre-ratification immunity, and the trial court erred in granting the Port’s motion for summary judgment.
The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.
Motion to compel arbitration was affirmed because Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards overcame any presumption deriving from 46 U.S.C.S. § 10313(i) that the courts should remain open to foreign seafarers in a case in which a seafarer had signed an otherwise enforceable agreement to arbitrate a wage claim.
MICHAEL ROGERS; HULYA KAR, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated seafarers and as private attorney general, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE; M/V MONARCH OF THE SEAS, Defendants-Appellees.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 23401
November 6, 2008, Filed
Plaintiff seamen sued defendants, cruise ships, alleging failure to pay wages in violation of 46 U.S.C.S. § 10313. The United States District Court for the Central District of California granted the cruise ships motion to compel arbitration. The seamen appealed.
The seamen alleged that the cruise ships had not paid them their full wages including tips, overtime and other compensation, owed under their contracts and/or in accordance with applicable general maritime law as well as California law. The complaint further alleged that the ships did not pay the seamen their full wages within 24 hours of the end of each voyage, thereby violating 46 U.S.C.S. § 10313(f). The appellate court found that the exemption clause, 9 U.S.C.S. § 1 specified that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq., did not apply to contracts within the scope of the clause even though such contracts were commercial. The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 9 U.S.C.S. § 201 et seq., overcame any presumption deriving from § 10313(i) that the courts should remain open to foreign seafarers in a case in which a seafarer had signed an otherwise enforceable agreement to arbitrate a wage claim. The seamen failed to show that the arbitration clause was unconscionable. The seamen had not shown that any public policy favoring seafarers was sufficient to overcome the public policy favoring international arbitration.
The judgment was affirmed.