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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Appeals Court News

Appeals Court OKs Navy Use of Sonar

A federal appeals court on Friday said the U.S. Navy could use high-power sonar during exercises off the Southern California coast despite the technology's threat to whales and other marine mammals. A majority on a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the Navy can use the high-power sonar in 11 planned training exercises in its reversal of a lower-court order banning the practice. Source: AP

Stolt-Nielsen Seeks Supreme Court Review

The AP has reported that Stolt-Nielsen will seek a Supreme Court review of a federal appeals court reversal of a decision that would allow the company to be prosecuted for antitrust activity. Previously, Stolt-Nielsen cooperated with the government in criminal antitrust prosecutions of the international carrier industry. The Department of Justice kicked Stolt-Nielsen out of the government's corporate leniency program for allegedly continuing illegal anticompetitive activity longer than it acknowledged. In January 2005, a district court judge issued an injunction stopping the Department of Justice from prosecuting Stolt-Nielsen. However, in March, a federal appeals court reversed the injunction. Earlier this month, the U.S.

BP Wins Right to Appeal Gulf Spill Damages Claims

BP Plc deserves the right to have a federal appeals court review some damage claims awarded under the settlement to compensate people and businesses harmed by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said BP did not expressly waive its right to appeal various claims determinations made under the 2012 settlement following review by a district court. BP argued that rules adopted by the federal judge who oversees that settlement compromised that right. BP is trying to hold down the costs of the settlement arising from the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and caused the largest U.S. offshore oil spill.

Korean Shipbuilder to Pay US$3.5-million Compensation

A Texas appeals court affirms US$3.5-million judgement against Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. The court upheld a jury’s finding that the Korean company wrongfully refused to pay consultants who helped secure a $696 million contract to build supertankers. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals held that the jury’s interpretation of an ambiguous agreement between Daewoo — the world's second largest shipbuilder — and Ikanco Inc. that resulted in the judgment was appropriate.  

Appellate Court Rules that PWC is Not a Vessel

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued a Press Notice stating that it is concerned over implications of a ruling by the Appeal Court, London that a personal water craft (PWC) is not a vessel for purposes of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The case arose as a prosecution of the operator of a PWC that collided with another PWC, severely injuring the other operator. An application had been made to appeal to the House of Lords. Source: HK Law

U.S. Supreme Court Reject Exxon Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on an appeal by Exxon Mobil Corp. over the $5 billion punitive damages verdict against it for the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident, the nation's worst oil spill. The justices let stand a U.S. appeals court ruling that the award against the oil giant in a civil lawsuit brought by Alaskan fishermen and other plaintiffs should not be set aside because of irregularities during jury deliberations. The appeal centered on the misconduct of court bailiff Don Warrick, who escorted the jury during the 1994 trial and the deliberations. A dissenting juror, Rita Wilson, had become emotionally distraught on the 32nd day of deliberations, right before the Labor Day weekend.

Supreme Court Rules Titanic Still Viewable

The Supreme Court refused to reopen a case last week from a Virginia appeals court allowing adventure-tour operators to conduct deep-sea excursions to the wreck of Titanic. The high court let stand a decision handed down in March by the 4th U.S. Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. The ship's wreckage, about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, was not discovered until 1985. R.M.S. Titanic Inc. has since salvaged thousands of artifacts from the sunken ship, which it has exhibited throughout the world. It has not sold any of the artifacts to private collectors. U.S. District Judge Calvitt Clarke Jr.

Supreme Court Rules Titanic Still Viewable

The Supreme Court refused to reopen a case this week from a Virginia appeals court allowing adventure-tour operators to conduct deep-sea excursions to the wreck of Titanic. The high court let stand a decision handed down in March by the 4th U.S. Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. The ship's wreckage, about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, was not discovered until 1985. R.M.S. Titanic Inc. has since salvaged thousands of artifacts from the sunken ship, which it has exhibited throughout the world. It has not sold any of the artifacts to private collectors. U.S. District Judge Calvitt Clarke Jr.

Bid to Reinstate Deepwater Drilling Moratorium Fails

According to a July 9 report from The New York Times, a federal appeals court has refused to reinstate the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling while litigation continues. But the court order said the administration can reapply for an emergency moratorium if drilling activity by deepwater rigs is about to begin. (Source: The New York Times)

Appeals Court Refuses to Close Chicago Locks To Deter Carp

On August 24, 2011, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit refused to issue a preliminary injunction to force the closure of locks on the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). The case stems from the controversy as to how best to prevent invasive Asian Carp from moving up the Mississippi/Illinois waterway system into Lake Michigan. The state of Michigan and others sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Chicago to force the lock closures and other measures. Lock closures would result in immediate significant economic harm to PVA members that operate vessels in the Chicago area. The lawsuit is not over. It will likely return to the federal district court where the case will be heard in full.

Alaska Gov Touts Offshore Oil Lease Ruling

According to an August 28 report from The Wall Street Journal, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell on August 28 praised a federal appeals court decision that he said will allow Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) to continue exploring for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

Costa Concordia Captain's Sentence Upheld

Costa Concordia (File photo courtesy of Boskalis)

The prison sentence against the former captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner for his role in the deadly 2012 shipwreck was upheld on Tuesday by an Italian court. Both Francesco Schettino, who was commanding the ship when it hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio, killing 32 people, and the prosecutor had appealed against the 16 years and one month sentence handed down last year. But the Florence appeals court upheld the term. Schettino was found guilty last year by a different court of multiple manslaughter…

Norway Appeals Court Clears Transocean in Tax-evasion Case

Offshore rig firm Transocean was cleared of accusations of tax evasion in a civilian case brought by the Norwegian state, a Norwegian appeals court said in a verdict on Monday.   By reversing the verdict made by a lower court, Transocean avoided claims of about 400 million Norwegian crowns ($47 million) to the Norwegian tax authorities.   In January, Norwegian police said they had dropped a planned appeal in a criminal case against Transocean declaring that the company and its advisers were considered innocent in the decade-long tax fraud case.   The civilian case was based on the same foundation as the criminal case, the court said in the verdict.   (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Chevron Wins A Round In U.S. Suit - Ecuador Case

Chevron

A federal judge on Friday rejected a bid by a U.S. lawyer to stall the enforcement of a ruling that found he used fraud to secure a $9.5 billion pollution judgment against Chevron Corp in Ecuador. Lawyer Steven Donziger is appealing a 500-page decision issued by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in March that barred him from collecting on a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in the United States. Chevron filed a lawsuit against Donziger in New York, claiming he used bribery…

New York Appeals Court Affirms Earlier Ruling

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Bay Casino, which operates a gaming vessel on "cruises to nowhere" from Brooklyn, did not violate federal law by operating its shipboard casino more than three, but less than 12 miles offshore, concurring with a lower court's decision. The court affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the civil forfeiture action against the company. The government argued when Congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, in which it extended the U.S. territorial seas out to 12 miles "for purposes of Federal criminal jurisdiction," shipboard gambling was rendered illegal within the 12-mile limit.

Navy Encouraged by Appeals Court Ruling

Navy officials said they are optimistic that a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Nov. 13 ordered a lower court to rewrite restrictions on the Navy's use of sonar in certain Southern California exercises. That ruling was part of a lawsuit challenging the Navy's ability to train Sailors before they deploy to potential hotspots. The Navy had asked the appeals court to overturn a preliminary injunction that was granted by a U.S. district judge on Aug. 6, 2007, that bars the Navy from using active sonar in certain multi-ship exercises off Southern California through January 2009. That injunction was granted in a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental and animal protection groups.

Stolt-Nielsen Appeal Fails in Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter on July 25 rejected an emergency appeal from Stolt-Nielsen SA to freeze the Justice Department's pursuit of antitrust charges against it. Stolt-Nielsen has challenged the power of government prosecutors to revoke an amnesty agreement shielding it from prosecution over an alleged plot to divvy up customers in the parcel shipping business, which involves the transport of bulk liquids such as chemicals. The company's emergency petition asked the U.S. Supreme Court to bar lower court proceedings against it and a U.S.-based executive, Richard Wingfield, while a separate appeal to the Supreme Court on underlying legal issues was pending. Souter, acting for the court, turned away that request.

Portsmouth To Fight LNG

The Portsmouth Town Council has voted to allocate up to $25,000 for legal expenses to help fight a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in nearby Fall River, Mass., the third Rhode Island community to promise money to oppose the project, according to a report on www.turnto10.com. The $250 million Weaver's Cove Energy project was approved on June 30 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The FERC at that time rejected a proposal by KeySpan LNG to expand an LNG facility in Providence. KeySpan has asked the commission to reconsider its decision. Fall River has hired Washington lawyers to appeal the decision to locate an LNG terminal in the city.

US Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to Shell Spill Plans in Alaska

A divided federal appeals court rejected an effort by environmental groups to void a U.S. agency's approval of two oil spill response plans by Royal Dutch Shell Plc related to the company's oil leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas on Alaska's Arctic coast.   By a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected a claim that the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which is part of the Department of the Interior, acted unlawfully in approving the plans, which relate to leases from 2005, 2007 and 2008.   Many environmental advocates oppose offshore energy exploration in the Arctic, on concern that any spill might prove difficult to clean up once production begins.     (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Treasure Hunters Thwarted By Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that Spain owns the remains of two of its warships that sank off the Virginia coast hundreds of years ago, handing a setback to a treasure-hunting, maritime salvage company. Virginia asserted ownership of the shipwrecks of the Spanish Royal Naval vessels -- La Galga, which sank in 1750, and Juno, which went down in 1802. Virginia issued Sea Hunt, a salvage company, permits to recover artifacts from the wrecks. But Spain then filed a claim asserting ownership over the shipwrecks, citing a 1902 treaty between the United States and Spain protecting shipwrecks and military gravesites. Under the treaty, vessels may be abandoned only by express acts. A U.S. appeals court ruled last year that the two ships belonged to Spain.

Ex-BP Engineer Deserves New Gulf Spill Trial -US Appeals Court

Photo: NOAA

A former BP Plc engineer deserves a new trial on an obstruction of justice charge related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed with a lower court judge's decision last June to throw out the defendant Kurt Mix's December 2013 conviction. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval acted after learning that the jury forewoman admitted to having heard in a courthouse elevator that other BP employees were being prosecuted over the spill…

US Orders EPA to Rewrite Ship Ballast Water Dumping Rules

A federal appeals court in New York ordered the government to rewrite its rules regulating the discharge of ballast water by ships, in a victory for environmental groups that said the rules were too lenient and threatened the nation's waterways. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday said the Environmental Protection Agency acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" when it decided in 2013 to follow an international standard governing the discharge of harmful organisms, though technology was available to adopt a higher standard. Writing for a 3-0 appeals court panel, Circuit Judge Denny Chin also said the EPA, using its authority under the Clean Water Act…

Appeals Court Not to Revisit BP Oil Spill Compensation Decision

File image

A U.S. appeals court will not revisit a decision to reject BP Plc's bid to block businesses from recovering money over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, even if those businesses could not trace their economic losses to the disaster. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March voted 2-1 to authorize payments on so-called business economic loss claims, and said an injunction preventing payments should be lifted. BP asked the entire 5th Circuit to rehear the case. However, the 5th Circuit voted 8-5 to let the March ruling stand, according to a court filing made public on Monday.

Maritime Reporter Magazine Cover Dec 2017 - The Great Ships of 2017

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