US Court Approves Seadrill's Bankruptcy Exit Plan
A U.S. judge said on Tuesday he would approve Seadrill Ltd's plan to exit its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in which the global offshore oil and gas drilling company would shed billions of dollars of debt and raise $1 billion in new investment. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones in Houston overruled two minor objections to the reorganization plan during a 90-minute hearing. The plan extends maturities on more than $5 billion of bank loans and converts about $2.3 billion in bond debt into equity in a reorganized Seadrill.
Salazar Statement on Leasing Court Ruling
U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued the following statement regarding the U.S. “I am pleased with the Court’s decision. Consistent with the Department’s request, the Court clarified that its prior ruling only applies to the Chukchi, Beaufort and Bering Seas. On April 17, 2009 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the entire 2007-2012 Outer Continental Shelf oil and natural gas leasing program, ruling that Bush Administration officials did not conduct sufficient scientific and environmental analysis before scheduling oil and gas lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf off Alaska. The ruling came two years after lease sales had begun under the 2007-2012 OCS oil and natural gas leasing program.
Personal jurisdiction, Venue, Insurance, Co-insurance, Salvage, and Subrogation
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a long decision regarding a lengthy and complicated litigation involving personal jurisdiction, venue, cargo insurance, co-insurance, salvage, and subrogation. Adams v. Unione Mediterranea di Sicurta, No. 03-30026 (5th Cir., April 14, 2004.) (HK Law) http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/03/03-30026-CV0.wpd.pdf
Iraq Refiles Case in US Court over Disputed Kurdish Crude Cargo
Iraq has refiled a suit in U.S. court in a bid to gain control of some 1 million barrels of disputed Kurdish crude oil on a tanker near Texas, days after the court said it lacked jurisdiction to have the cargo seized but that it could hear arguments about who is the oil's rightful owner. The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying about $100 million worth of Kurdish crude, has been stationed near Texas since late July, as the central government of Iraq wages a legal battle against Iraqi Kurdistan over who has the sole right to export crude. U.S.
Mariner fails again to establish personal jurisdiction
In an unpublished decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that plaintiff mooring master failed to prove the court had personal jurisdiction over a foreign ship management company. In the instant case, plaintiff asserted that he was injured while transferring from one ship to another on the high seas off Galveston when the crane that was carrying him failed, dropping him into waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The ship management company is incorporated in Switzerland and headquartered in Bermuda. It has no offices or business operations in Pennsylvania, where this suit was filed. This suit is one of at least five filed in various U.S. courts by this plaintiff involving this incident. All have failed due to lack of personal jurisdiction.
U.S. court upholds British Arbitration Award
In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court’s confirmation of a British arbitration award in favor of a protection and indemnity (P&I) club against plaintiff seamen. Acting on behalf of the seamen, a law firm sued States Steamship Company for alleged asbestos-related injuries. When States, which was in bankruptcy, did not answer, plaintiffs obtained a default judgment. Suit was then brought against two P&I Clubs that had insured States. One club prevailed on the “pay to be paid” provision in its policy. The suit against the second club was referred to arbitration in Britain in accordance with terms in the policy. The British arbitration was in favor of the club and included an award of legal costs and fees against plaintiffs.
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
Engineer in Dredge is Jones Act Seaman
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that an engineer employed on a dredge in navigation is a seaman for purposes of the Jones Act. This decision was rendered when the court’s earlier decision was reversed and remanded by the U.S. Supreme Court. Stewart v. Dutra Construction Company, Inc., No. 99-1487 (1st Cir., August 9, 2005).
Appeal By Pilot Association Disallowed
In another chapter (or paragraph) of the long-running disagreement between the association of U.S. pilots operating on the Great Lakes and the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the pilots’ association may not appeal a lower court decision to remand a rate dispute to the agency. Lake Pilots Association, Inc. v. U.S. Coast Guard, No. 03-5152 (D.C. Cir., March 9, 2004). (HK Law)
Iraq to Appeal US Court Decision on Kurdish Oil
The Iraqi oil ministry said on Thursday it would challenge a U.S. court decision that stopped U.S. Marshals from seizing some one million barrels of disputed Kurdish oil docked near Texas. On Monday, a U.S. district court ruled in favour of a request by Iraq's Kurdish region that a demand by the Iraqi government for U.S. authorities to seize the Kurdish oil shipment be scrapped. However, the court gave Baghdad 10 days to resubmit its case. "The ministry of oil is emphasising that it is preparing the amended request and will forward it in the required period," the oil ministry said in a statement. "The decision of the court is only to lift the seizure of the shipment while at sea. Therefore they referred to American maritime 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
Court Interprets Settlement Agreement
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit interpreted a settlement agreement between an insurance company and a shipowner in order to determine whether the insurance company was entitled to share in the shipowner’s subsequent settlement with a third party in a claim relating to loss of the ship. Home Insurance Company v. Pan American Grain Manufacturing Co., Inc., No. 03-2625 (1st Cir., February 4, 2005)(HK LAW)
Excavator May be LHWCA Harbor Worker
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that an excavator was a harbor worker under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) when he was killed while excavating a utility line trench as part of a project to renovate three submarine berths at Pearl Harbor. The work was being done ashore, but directly adjacent to, the berths. The court held that the term “harbor worker” includes workers directly involved in the construction of a maritime facility, even though their specific job duties are not maritime in nature. Source: HK Law
BP Says US Court Yet to Determine Penalty
Oil major BP said on Thursday it will appeal a U.S. court decision that found it grossly negligent with respect to the Gulf of Mexico 2010 oil spill and added the court will hold additional proceedings due to begin next January. BP said it will immediately appeal to the United States Court of Appeals as it believes the findings of the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana were not supported by the evidence at trial. "The law is clear that proving gross negligence is a very high bar that was not met in this case.
Iraqi Kurds Reassert Right to Export Oil to US Despite Court Ruling
Kurdistan reasserted its right to export oil independently to the United States and other countries on Tuesday despite a court ruling in favour of the Iraqi federal government, which has sought to block crude sales from the autonomous region. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans on Monday dismissed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s bid to overturn an earlier ruling against a planned sale of oil to an unidentified buyer in the U.S. Iraq's federal government filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court last year to thwart the sale of the one million barrel cargo from the Kurdistan region in an ongoing dispute over the right to export oil. The tanker was stuck off U.S.
ITIC Warns on Costs of U.S. Documentary Disclosure
ITIC has warned that onerous documentary disclosure rules in the U.S. courts can drastically increase the cost to shipping interests of defending even without-merit claims. In the latest issue of its Claims Review, ITIC cites a case involving the manager of a number of cruise ships which was sued by a shipowner in a U.S. court for alleged failure to oversee maintenance, for negligence in the provision of manning advice and for negligence in relation to stability problems experienced by one of the owner’s ships.
ITIC: Professional Indemnity Cover Needed
ITIC says professional indemnity cover essential in litigious shipping industry. International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has warned that, in today’s increasingly litigious business environment, there is a growing need for shipping professionals to have third-party indemnity insurance cover. This can be the case even in those sectors where insurance has not previously been deemed necessary, and in cases where, despite a favourable outcome to legal proceedings, substantial costs may be unrecoverable.
Kurds Ask US Court to Scrap Seizure Order, Allow Crude Delivery
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq asked a U.S. court on Monday to throw out an order to seize some 1 million barrels of disputed crude oil and allow the cargo to be freely delivered in Texas. The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying about $100 million worth of Kurdish crude, has been anchored near Texas for nine days, as the Iraqi region of Kurdistan wages a legal battle over ownership with the central government of Iraq. At the request of Baghdad, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to take control of the cargo last week, but then said the tanker was outside its jurisdiction and beyond U.S. territory in the Gulf of Mexico.
USACE May Recover Reasonable Overhead
The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that, where the US Army Corps of Engineers undertakes to repair a lock and miter gate damaged by a tug and barge, it is entitled to recover its reasonable overhead in addition to its direct expenses. United States v. Capital Sand Co., Inc., No. 05-3405 (8th Cir., October 25, 2006). Source: HK Law
Eleventh Amendment and removal of admiralty case
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not prevent removal of an admiralty case to federal court where the state involved is the plaintiff. In the instant case, the State of Oklahoma brought suit in state court against the owner of the tugboat that allided with a highway bridge, resulting in severe damage to the bridge and the deaths of various persons. Defendant tugboat owner removed the case to federal court. The state’s motion to remand back to state court was denied and the state appealed. The appellate court held that the Eleventh Amendment only applies in cases where the state is the defendant, so as to avoid states being involuntarily involved in federal court proceedings.
U.S. Court Finds WesternGeco Patents Valid
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed the 2014 judgment that ION Geophysical Corp. infringed four seminal WesternGeco LLP patents covering streamer steering technology for marine seismic surveys, and that WesternGeco is the rightful owner of the pioneering technology. In 2009, WesternGeco filed suit for patent infringement against ION's DigiFIN streamer steering system in U.S. federal court in Houston, Texas. ION was found to infringe one patent on summary judgment…
Eleventh Amendment and Limitation of Liability
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not prevent a ship owner from pursuing a limitation of liability claim where one of the claimants is a state. In the instant case, the State of Oklahoma brought suit in state court against the owner of a tugboat that allided with a highway bridge, resulting in severe damage to the bridge and the deaths of various persons. Defendant tugboat owner removed the case to federal court. The state contended that, under the Eleventh Amendment, a state cannot be prohibited from pursuing its claim in state court and cannot be forced to pursue its claim in federal court. The federal appellate court held that the Eleventh Amendment is a shield, not a sword.
NMMA Ethanol Lawsuit Against U.S. EPA Dismissed
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) express disappointment at Court's E15 fuel decision. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) said it was “disappointed” by a US court of appeals decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The trade group and other manufacturing associations had earlier sued EPA over its decision to allow E15 into the country’s fuel supply. Recently the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit dismissed the case on procedural grounds. The marine trade association said it is “confident” that the court would have found that the EPA “overstepped its authority” in approving E15 if it had judged on the merits of the case. An NMMA statement said it is “evaluating” further litigation options.