Exculpatory Clause in Maritime Contract

Thursday, July 03, 2003
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that a clear and unequivocal exculpatory clause may exonerate a marina owner from liability to vessel owners for simple negligence. In the instant case, owners of vessels berthed at the marina signed slip agreements containing exoneration clauses. A marina employee negligently repaired a fuel pump on a vessel at the marina. The vessel caught fire and the fire spread to adjacent vessels. The vessel owners sued the marina. The court held that the language of the exoneration clause was clear and unequivocal and that such clauses in this type of maritime contract did not violate public policy. In this respect, the court sided with the Fifth and Ninth Circuits, as against the position taken by the First and Eleventh Circuits. Sander v. Alexander Richardson Investments Source: HK Law

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