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U.S. Federal Court Bars OPEC From Price Fixing

A U.S. federal court reportedly has granted a one-year injunction barring oil producer group OPEC from fixing prices. Prewitt Enterprises won a civil anti-trust case in an Alabama court, accusing the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) of conspiring to fix oil prices through oil supply agreements. OPEC is for the next year "restrained from entering any agreements among themselves or with third parties to raise, lower, or otherwise determine volumes of production and export of crude oil," a Senior U.S. District Judge ruled March 21. OPEC made successive cuts in production through 1998 and 1999 that pushed crude oil prices to their high level since the Gulf War and lifted gasoline pump prices to record highs.


Chemoil Files Suit Against STUSCO

Chemoil Corporation announced today that it has filed suit against Shell Trading US Co. (STUSCO) in the Federal Courts of the Southern District of Texas in connection with certain acidic products, which STUSCO supplied to Chemoil during 2003. In this suit, Chemoil is seeking indemnity from STUSCO, as well as damages for breach of contract and other causes of action. This action is directly related to a series of TAN (Total Acid Number) bunker claims received by Chemoil in New Orleans


Indefinitely Moored Vessel not Subject of Admiralty Jurisdiction

In an unpublished opinion, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that an indefinitely moored gaming vessel is not a vessel for purposes of general maritime law and not subject to the admiralty jurisdiction of federal courts. In the instant case, the gaming vessel was afloat, but had not moved since arriving at its Lakes Charles mooring in 2001. The owners had no intention of moving the vessel. Plaintiff alleged personal injury from a slip-and-fall on carpeting outside the


TSA Issues Security Threat Assessment Application

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a notice stating that it is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to require that individuals seeking access to Sensitive Security Information (SSI) for use in civil proceedings in federal court submit a security threat assessment application. As part of this application, as proposed, the attorney will be required to submit identifying information, information regarding the litigation


DOT – Drug and Alcohol Testing

The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final rule amending (again) its regulations pertaining to urine specimen collections as part of the drug and alcohol testing procedures.  A federal court has issued a temporary stay regarding the recent change to the regulations.  Therefore, until the court issues its decision on the propriety of the new procedures, the previous procedures will remain in effect


Enviro Fugitive Caught

Sherman Smith, owner of Seawall Construction, a Seattle area marine construction company, was surrendered to the U.S. Marshall's Service in Tucson, Ariz., on April 1 by the Mexican Government. Smith had forfeited $20,000 bail when he failed to appear for trial in federal court in Washington State in May 1996 and had been living in Mexico. Smith was previously charged on Sept. 27, 1995, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle with violating the Clean Water Act


Misplacing Benton Harbor results in dismissal of action

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the trial court’s decision to dismiss an admiralty action filed in the wrong district. In the instant case, plaintiff contracted to have cold-rolled steel shipped from Belgium to Benton Harbor, Indiana. The bills of lading provided, in pertinent part, that any action was to be brought in the federal district court having admiralty jurisdiction at the U.S. port of discharge. Plaintiff brought suit in federal court in Chicago


Company and Senior Officers Fined for Falsifying Export Certificates

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a news release stating that a Louisiana company specializing in the export of agricultural products and its principal officers plead guilty in federal court to counterfeiting and using phytosanitary certificates. The company president and vice president were sentenced to five years probation and fines of $250,000 each. The company was assessed a criminal fine of $500,000


Canada Appeal Denied in Port State Control Case

Transport Canada stated that the Supreme Court of Canada has declined to consider the appeal of the ship owner in a case challenging the decision of Canadian port state control inspectors to detain a ship for an extended period. The Federal Court of Appeals (FCA) of Canada had ruled that the government is not liable for the extended detention of a ship based on an allegedly negligent port state control (PSC) inspection


Rowan Pleads Guilty To Dumping Waste

Rowan Companies Inc. will pay $9m in penalties and add a corporate environmental division under a plea agreement in which it admitted the routine discharge of pollutants and garbage into the Gulf of Mexico from one of its drilling rigs, the Justice Department recently announced. Rowan pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas, to three felonies in connection with the dumping of waste hydraulic oil mixed with water, used paint, paint cans


US EPA Serves ECA Suspected Violation Subpoenas

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 U.S. EPA has served subpoenas in connection with the investigation into potential violations of MARPOL Annex and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) following the coming into force of the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) on 1, August 2012.


Two Ocean Shipping Companies to Pay $3.4M

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Sea Star Line LLC and Horizon Lines LLC have agreed to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by fixing the price of government cargo transportation contracts between the continental United States and Puerto Rico, the Department of Justice announced today


Odfjell Pleads Guilty to Pollution Charges

Odfjells tanker vessel involved in the incident, M/T Bow Lind (Photo: Odfjell)

Company agrees to pay $1.2 million penalty; $300,000, will fund Long Island Sound projects. Singapore-based Odfjell Asia II Pte Ltd and one of its senior crew members pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Hartford, Conn., for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS)


Coast Guard’s Proposed Maritime Preemption Assessment Framework

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In the May 2013 issue of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News, Dennis Bryant published a provocative article titled Rebuilding the Presumption of Preemption. Pointing to recent examples of state overreach in the maritime field like California’s ocean-going vessel fuel standard that


BP Loses Bid to Block Seafood Fund Payments

A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday denied BP Plc's request to halt payments from the $2.3 billion fund it created to compensate commercial fishermen for financial losses after the British company's 2010 offshore oil spill, according to court records.


U.S. Coast Guard Must Assert its Authority

Dennis L. Bryant

It is time for the Coast Guard to defend the authority granted  to it by Congress, the Executive Branch and the courts. On December 27, 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a notice stating that it intended to promulgate a rule containing its assessment framework for


The Coast Guard’s Proposed Maritime Preemption Assessment Framework

Craig H. Allen, Sr.

What it may foretell about the coming towing vessel rule. In the May 2013 issue of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News, Dennis Bryant published a provocative article titled Rebuilding the Presumption of Preemption. Pointing to recent examples of state overreach in the maritime field like


Shell Suspends Alaskan Offshore Drilling

AP photo

Faced with an earnings slump and added pressure from a recent federal court ruling, Shell has abandoned plans for offshore drilling near Alaska in 2014. Shell’s new CEO Ben van Beurden announced to investors today that the company will undergo a major refocus aimed at reversing down


Landmark ECJ Ruling on Liability Limitation for Cargo Theft

Jos van der Meché

Rotterdam based law firm AKD said a recent landmark decision of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg definitively puts its weight behind forum shopping to limit liability under the CMR Convention in carrier-friendly countries. This is a boon to the Dutch jurisdiction and specifically comes


Mabus Tightens Navy’s Counter-fraud Measures

Ray Mabus

While the Navy already has one of the strongest counter-fraud efforts in the government, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus today announced new measures to assure contracting integrity and to prevent fraud. Mabus, who briefed the Pentagon press corps this morning


Court Clears Lake Huron Chartering Executives

 Lake Huron Chartering announce that criminal charges filed in Houston, Texas against three of its executives have been granted dismissal. As of June 10, 2013, indictments and charges against Alireza Etessami, Gustavo Gimeno and Denny Martinez have been dropped.


Beyond Your Control: Minimizing Exposure

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Planning Ahead Can Help You Use the Act of God as a Defense In the marine industry, the management of risk is an everyday concern. We attempt to minimize risk by maintaining seaworthy vessels, properly training crews, entering into agreements that allocate risk and buying insurance


Chief Engineer Convicted for 'Magic Pipe' Pollution

After a 9-day trial in federal court in Norfolk, Va., the case against ship operator Kassian Maritime Navigation Agency, Ltd., ship owner Angelex Ltd., and chief engineer Lambros Katsipis concluded with Katsipis found guilty on seven counts of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships


Shipping Firms to Pay $10.4 Million in Pollution Penalties

Two shipping firms based in Germany and Cyprus were sentenced today in federal court in Newark, N.J., to pay a $10.4 million penalty for felony obstruction of justice charges and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships related to the deliberate concealment of vessel pollution from four


Rebuilding the Presumption of Preemption

Dennis L. Bryant, Maritime Regulatroy Consulting, Gainsville, FL

I propose that the Legislative, Executive, Judicial Branches of the federal government should cooperatively work toward the rebuilding of the presumption in favor of federal preemption with respect to all matters related to maritime commerce


 
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