Maritime Lien Without a Maritime Contract

Friday, September 13, 2002
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a party may have a maritime lien under the Federal Maritime Lien Act without having a maritime contract. In the instant case, plaintiff fish processor contracted with various fishing vessel owners to land and process their squid catch. Plaintiff brought suit against the vessels in rem when the vessel owners did not fully pay the contracted amounts. The trial court granted the owners' motion to dismiss the complaint, finding that plaintiff did not have a maritime lien against the vessels because the contract was not maritime in nature. The appellate court reversed, ruling that the Federal Maritime Lien Act only requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that he provided necessaries to the vessels on the order of the owner or a person authorized by the owner. While actions brought under general maritime law must meet various common law requirements, that concept does not apply when the action is based on a specific federal statute, such as the Maritime Lien Act. In this case, the vessels received necessaries, even though the underlying contract may have been nonmaritime in nature. Ventura Packers, Inc. v. F/V Jeanine Kathleen Source: HK Law
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