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Maritime Law Archives

THE FIFTH CIRCUIT URGES A NEW TEST FOR MARITIME CONTRACTS

The issue before the Fifth Circuit in In re: Limitation Complaint of Larry Doiron, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3675 (5th Cir., Feb 27, 2017, revised opinion) was whether the contract was a maritime one. The contract was one to perform flow-back services to improve the performance of an offshore natural-gas well when performance eventually required the use of a crane barge. While the Court applied the Davis factors, a new test was urged.

PUNITIVE DAMAGES AGAINST NON-EMPLOYER THIRD-PARTY TORTFEASORS NOT PERMITTED UNDER GENERAL MARITIME LAW

Recently, in Wade v. Clemco Industries, Corp., et al, No. 16-502 (E.D.La. Feb. 2, 2017). the court considered whether a seaman can recover non-pecuniary damages against a non-employer third-party tortfeasor under general maritime law.

MARITIME LIENS FOR NECESSITIES ARE STRICTLY LIMITED TO THEIR STATUTORY BASIS

In ING Bank N.V. v. M/V Temara, et al, 2016 AMC 2387 (S.D.NY Aug. 24, 2016) one of the issues before the court was whether an order of bunkers (quantities of fuel) by a charterer of a ship from a bunker broker, not acting as an agent of the vessel, creates a lien in favor of a supplier acting as a subcontractor of the bunker broker.

DEFENSE OF SEAMAN STATUS AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES

In Ward v. Ehw Constructors, (USDC WDWA, December 22, 2016) the issues before the court were seaman status and punitive damages for failure to pay maintenance and cure. In May 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Defendants a contract to build an explosives-handling wharf. The project utilized several floating structures, including the Ringer II, which was an un-crewed floating platform comprised of interlocking flexi-floats. Each group of flexi-floats was held in place with anchors or "spuds" then maneuvered at the worksite either by tug or deck wenches. Support skiffs were also used to transport materials and laborers.

CONTRACTS INVOLVING OIL AND GAS OPERATIONS ON NAVIGABLE WATERS

In In re Crescent Energy Servs., LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154038 (E.D. La. Nov. 7, 2016), at issue before the court was whether the contract between Crescent and Carrizo was a maritime or non-maritime contract. If the contract was non-maritime, the Louisiana Oilfield Indemnity Act (LSA-R.S. 9:2780) would void the indemnity agreement. On the other hand, were the contract maritime, then the indemnity agreement would be enforceable

SALVOR'S AWARDS

In Girard v. M/V Blacksheep, Arnaud Girard was a marine salvor who worked to rescue ships in peril. In December 2013, he undertook a rescue mission for a yacht known as the M/Y Blacksheep. Thereafter he filed an action in rem against the Blacksheep, seeking a salvage award for services provided to the yacht. The district court denied his claim, finding that Mr. Girard failed to show that his services were necessary to the rescue of the Blacksheep. Mr. Girard appealed.

UBERRIMAE FIDEI: MARITIME INSURANCE CONTRACTS AND THE DOCTRINE OF THE UTMOST GOOD FAITH

"Uberrimae fidei" means of the utmost good faith. The uberrimae fidei doctrine requires the insured to disclose to the insurer all known circumstances that materially affect the insurer's risk. Under the doctrine, when the marine insured fails to disclose to the marine insurer all circumstances known to it and unknown to the insurer which materially affect the insurer's risk, the insurer may void the marine insurance policy at its option.

EXCULPATORY CONTRACTS UNDER MARITIME LAW

In Olmo v. Atlantic City Parasail, LLC, plaintiff, Dina Olmo, brought a claims for negligent entrustment of the company's vessel, violation of common carrier's high duty of care and unseaworthiness against defendant, Atlantic City Parasail ("AC Parasail"), as a result of injuries she sustained when defendant's vessel hit a wave.

LIMITING DAMAGES IN MARITIME REPAIR CONTRACTS

While "red letter" clauses in maritime repair contracts that completely absolve the repairer of liability for negligence are invalid, limitations on damages are allowed. As a result, vessel owners should be extremely cautious when entering into maritime repair contracts.

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