Marine Link
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Court Rules News

Courts Rule on Lost Profits

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a ship owner whose vessel was damaged due to negligence is entitled to recover lost profits for the period the vessel was out of service if the vessel was active in a market ready for its services. In the instant case, plaintiff's barge grounded in the Pascagoula channel. The trial court found the government to be partially negligent because the channel as marked was inconsistent with the channel as dredged. The appellate court ruled that it is not necessary for a ship owner to show that it lost particular charters in order to recover lost profits. Maritrans Operating Partners, LP v. Port of Pascagoula Source: HK Law

Zim Line Debt Restructuring Plan to Proceed

Zim container ship in terminal: Photo Zim Line

Israel's Finance Ministry and Israel Corp have reached a compromise regarding the government's "golden share" in the country's biggest shipping company Zim, paving the way for a $3 billion debt restructuring plan to move ahead. The government last week appealed an Israeli court ruling regarding the golden share but the two sides said on Tuesday they have reached a compromise that is similar to the original court ruling. As a result, Israel Corp said in a statement, it has asked the district court to approve the restructuring arrangement it has reached with its shareholders.

Face Off Maersk Tigris

Maersk Tigris. Pic by Maersk Line

The Danish shipping giant Maersk Line is still trying to obtain details of the Iranian court ruling that resulted in seizing Maersk Tigris by the Iranian authorities over an alleged commercial dispute. While the Iranian claimant in the Maersk Tigris case warns vessel could be put for auction if compensation is not paid by Maersk Line, on the other hand, says it has still no received written confirmation of court rulings or ship arrest warrant. The Maersk Tigris was seized last Tuesday by Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz…

Jones Act--Same Negligence Standard

In a case brought under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the negligence standard must be the same for the injured employee and the employer. In that case, an injured railroad worker filed an action under the FELA against his employer in Missouri. Under Missouri practice, the employer could be found liable if the injuries were caused in whole or in part by the employer's negligence. On the other hand, the employee's damage award was only reduced if the employee's negligence directly contributed to the injury. The Supreme Court ruled that the standard applied to the employer for negligence and to the employee for contributory negligence must be the same.

EC Proposal on Pollution Protection

The European Commission (EC) issued a press release stating that it is proposing to streamline rules on protection in case of marine pollution. The 2005 Framework Decision was struck down in 2007 by the European Court of Justice. The new proposal will, if adopted, protect the marine environment through criminal law in a manner consistent with the court’s ruling. The EC also issued a series of Questions and Answers on this proposal. Source: HK Law

FMC Upheld on Claim of Unreasonably Refusing to Deal or Negotiate

In an unpublished decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a petition for review sought by a stevedoring company of a decision of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). In a matter before the agency, the FMC had ruled that a marine terminal operator had not unreasonably refused to deal or negotiate with the stevedoring company. In its decision, the court ruled that the FMC decision was supported by substantial evidence and was consistent with past precedent. Source: HK Law

Supreme Court Rules Federal Law Preempts State Tank Vessel Regulations

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled the state of Washington overstepped its authority in attempting to regulate the operation of tank vessels in state waters. The Court's 9-0 decision in the closely watched case (Intertanko v. Locke, United States v. Locke) reversed the June 1998 decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding most of the state's "Best Achievable Protection" (BAP) standards for tank vessels. The Court found sufficient evidence to declare four of the Washington regulations unconstitutional and remanded the case so the validity of the others may be assessed by a lower court "in light of the considerable federal interest at stake and in conformity with the principles" set forth in the Supreme Court decision.

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

Greek Court Sets New Deadline for Royal Olympic Cruise Lines

Royal Olympic Cruise Lines announced that the Greek court administering the section 45 proceeding regarding its subsidiaries has allowed the company an extension until Thursday, February 12, 2004, to reach agreement on a plan of restructuring with the holders of at least 51% of outstanding obligations. The company is in negotiations with its major creditor, Fortis Bank, which itself holds more than 51% of the total obligations. In addition the company announced that it has put all administrative staff in Greece on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the court ruling and discussions with financial institutions and various creditors.

Valdez Oil Tanker Tax Ruled Unconstitutional

According to a June 15 report on ktuu.com, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a tax the city of Valdez has been collecting from oil tankers. A Conoco Phillips subsidiary, Polar Tankers, fought the tax and the high court ruled the tax unconstitutional. It argued that under a provision known as the "tonnage clause," Valdez must first get permission from Congress for the tax – something it did not do. (Source: ktuu.com)

Bangladesh Shipyards Back in Biz

According to a report from AFP, Bangladesh's vast ship-breaking yards are coming back into business, after a High Court ruling on March 7 reversed a series of 2010 court verdicts -- fought for by environmental activists -- that required vessels to be cleared of all hazardous material such as asbestos before being imported for scrap.   Source: AFP  

Israeli gov't appeals court ruling on Zim in feud over debt deal

Israel's Finance Ministry said on Monday it appealed a court ruling that chipped away at its golden share in the country's biggest shipping company Zim, a move that could further delay a $3 billion debt restructuring plan. An Israeli court ruled last week the government could keep its golden share, which gives it veto power over some major decisions, while raising the amount of stock shareholders are allowed to sell without government approval. Conglomerate Israel Corp, which has just under 100 percent of the equity in Zim, had said the court's decision would allow it to carry out the proposed restructuring on July 15. But the Finance Ministry said it had appealed the ruling with the country's Supreme Court, asking for an order to postpone the restructuring.

EU's Statement on South China Sea Reflects Divisions

The European Union issued a statement on Friday noting China's legal defeat over the South China Sea but avoided direct reference to Beijing, reflecting discord among EU governments over how strongly to respond to the court ruling. While the European Union is neutral in China's dispute with its Asian neighbours in the South China Sea, Britain, France and Germany want to make clear that Beijing must uphold international law as it seeks a bigger global role. But speaking with one European voice has become difficult as some smaller governments, including Hungary and Greece, rely on Chinese investment and are unwilling to criticise Beijing despite its militarisation of South China Sea islands.

China Military Says S.China Sea Ruling Won't Affect Sovereignty

China's Defence Ministry said on Tuesday no matter how an arbitration court rules on a case about the South China Sea it will not affect China's sovereignty.   "No matter what kind of ruling is to be made, Chinese armed forces will firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and maritime interests and rights, firmly uphold regional peace and stability, and deal with all kinds of threats and challenges," it said, in a bilingual Chinese and English statement. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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.

Ship Owner May Sue Injured Seaman

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a ship owner may assert a negligence and indemnity claim against its seaman-employee for property damage allegedly caused by the seaman’s negligence. In the instant case, plaintiff mate was injured when his ship collided with another ship. Plaintiff was on watch and in command of the ship at the time and allegedly left the wheelhouse in congested waters to attend to personal business. Plaintiff brought suit against the other ship and against defendant employer under the Jones Act and general maritime law. Defendant settled with the other ship and then filed a counterclaim against plaintiff. The trial court dismissed the counterclaim and defendant appealed.

Court Denies Maritrans' Claim for Damages From the Oil Pollution Act of 1990

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled on December 21, 2001 that the double hull requirement of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 ("OPA") does not constitute a "taking" of Maritrans' petroleum barges. Maritrans is currently evaluating whether to take an appeal. OPA prohibits existing single-hull tank vessels from continuing operation through their useful life, mandating a phase-out schedule over a period of years. In 1996, Maritrans filed a lawsuit alleging that the forced retirement of its predominantly single-hulled vessel fleet represents a "taking" under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits the taking of property by the government without just compensation.

Maritrans' Claim for Damages from OPA 90 Denied

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled on December 21, 2001 that the double hull requirement of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 ("OPA") does not constitute a "taking" of Maritrans' petroleum barges. Maritrans is currently evaluating whether to take an appeal. OPA prohibits existing single-hull tank vessels from continuing operation through their useful life, mandating a phase-out schedule over a period of years. In 1996, Maritrans filed a lawsuit alleging that the forced retirement of its predominantly single-hulled vessel fleet represents a "taking" under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits the taking of property by the government without just compensation.

Federal Court Delivers Ruling On Bayport

The Port of Houston Authority (PHA) welcomed U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore's ruling on the motions for summary judgment that had been filed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, PHA, and the opponents of PHA's Bayport Container and Cruise Terminal project. The court ruling grants the Corps' and PHA's motions and denies the opponents' motion, thereby dismissing the challenge to the Bayport permit. "The port authority is gratified to have prevailed in this important matter," stated Jim Edmonds, PHA chairman. "The port authority greatly appreciates the intensive work of the federal judge and her court in addition to her willingness to resolve this case on an expedited basis.

EPA May Inspect a Ship for PCB

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to obtain and exercise an administrative warrant to inspect ships containing regulated chemical substances. In the instant case, the owner of an obsolete US Navy ship announced plans to have the ship towed to a foreign port for renovation and conversion. The EPA learned that the ship probably had polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) on board in quantities subject to regulation and might well be scrapped rather than renovated. The agency sought permission from the owner to inspect the ship, but was denied. It then sought an administrative warrant from the local federal district court.

Insurer Entitled to Lien for Value of Insurance Provided

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that an insurer that provides marine insurance for a vessel is entitled to a maritime lien for the value of the insurance provided. In the instant case, claimant provided marine insurance for a cruise ship. Arrangements were that the premium was to be billed in six installments spread over several years. The ship owner went bankrupt and claimant filed its claim in the subsequent admiralty proceeding. The district court ruled that the insurer was only entitled to a lien in the amount of the premiums for which it had sent invoices prior to the bankruptcy. The appellate court reversed, holding that the maritime lien arises automatically upon the furnishing of the necessary, without regard to when an invoice may have been issued.

Cruise Ship Doctor Subject to Local Law

The District Court of Appeal of the Florida Third District ruled that the state courts have personal jurisdiction over a doctor employed on a foreign cruise ship for alleged malpractice that occurred on the high seas where the doctor was served with the complaint while the ship was in a local port. In the instant case, the doctor allegedly failed to properly treat a woman passenger who prematurely went into labor while the ship was at sea near the Cayman Islands. The infant died shortly after birth. After suit was filed by the parents in state court in Miami, arrangements were made for personal service of the summons and complaint on the doctor onboard the ship while it was docked in Miami, its homeport and where the parents had originally embarked on the cruise.

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

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