360 F.Supp. 1188 (E.D.La. 1973), Civ. A. 72-1010, In re Lyra Shipping Co. Ltd.

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 72-1010
Citation:360 F.Supp. 1188
Party Name:In re Lyra Shipping Co. Ltd.
Case Date:July 02, 1973
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Eastern District of Louisiana
 
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Page 1188

360 F.Supp. 1188 (E.D.La. 1973)

In the matter of the complaint of LYRA SHIPPING COMPANY, LTD., as owner of the M/S GALAXY FAITH, for Exoneration from, or Limitation of Liability.&nbsp

Civ. A. Nos. 72-1010, 72-973, 72-992, 72-1215.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana.

July 2, 1973

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Clarence Frost, Faris, Ellis, Cutrone, Gilmore & Lautenschlaeger, New Orleans, La., for Lyra Shipping Co., Ltd.

Joe L. Horne, New Orleans, La., for Tex-Barge, Inc. and Marine Tow, Inc.

F. A. Courtenay, Jr., Leach, Grossel-Rossi & Paysse, New Orleans, La., for Magnolia Marine Transport Co.

James G. Burke, Jr., Burke & Ballard, New Orleans, La., for Cabot Corp.

ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

CASSIBRY, District Judge.

These cases grow out of the collision involving the GALAXY FAITH that occurred in the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal Locks. The defendant seeks to have the claims of various parties dismissed.

I. NATURE OF THE DAMAGES CLAIMED.

The damages claimed to have been sustained by the indicated claimants are as follows:

A. Tex-Barge, Inc. and Marine Tow, Inc.:

At the time of the collision described in the Complaint, the claimants' vessel M/V INLAND PILOT and its tow were bound from Mobile, Alabama, to Norco, Louisiana, to load cargo. Because of the collision referred to in the Complaint the vessel and its tow could not transit the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal Locks (hereinafter "Industrial Canal Locks") and the vessel and its tow were unable to reach Norco by that route. As stated in the Ninth Paragraph of their claim, Tex-Barge, Inc. and Marine Tow, Inc.

"... have sustained damage consisting of delay and detention of the claimants' vessel M/V INLAND PILOT and Barges STCO-200, STCO-201, and STCO-202, loss of profits, additional fuel and other supplies consumed, additional crew hire paid, and other substantial expenses necessarily incurred4)4B" B"B"n

B. Cabot Corporation:

Cabot Corporation had an agreement with Stellman Transportation Company, under which Stellman was to transport feedstock for Cabot from Pascagoula, Mississippi, to Krotz Springs, Louisiana, by the most direct water route. Stellman's vessel was unable to transit the Industrial Canal Locks because of the collision referred to in the Complaint and was required to return to Pascagoula. Stellman has made claim on Cabot for freight and demurrage and Cabot claims that if it is liable to Stellman, then Lyra Shipping is liable to it because of its negligence.

C. Magnolia Marine Transport Company:

Magnolia's vessel, the M/V VALDA, and its tow were bound from Buck's Landing, Alabama, to Port Arthur, Texas,

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but were unable to transit the Industrial Canal Locks because of the collision referred to in the Complaint. After waiting several days, the M/V VALDA and its tow

"... proceeded down the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet in order to proceed along the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico to the mouth of the Mississippi River, up the Mississippi River to the Algiers Locks to the Intracoastal Canal and on to Port Arthur."

(See Paragraph 4 of Claim.)

Once in the Gulf, the tow encountered heavy ground swells which caused the tow to break up. As stated in the Sixth Paragraph 6 of its claim:

"... the tow of the M/V VALDA broke up and all vessels were damaged and ultimately had to be rescued."

II. LEGAL CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

Here, assuming for purposes of this motion that the claimants actually sustained the losses they describe, the defendant maintains that such losses are only indirect consequences of the collision of the GALAXY FAITH with the Industrial Canal Locks. The defendant argues that such damages are not recoverable because either (1) under admiralty law a third party has no right to sue a tortfeasor for damages which the third party has sustained as a result of a tort committed upon another, Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint, 1927, 275 U.S. 303, 48 S.Ct. 134, 72 L.Ed. 290; Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. v. Marshland Dredging Co., Inc., 5 Cir. 1972, 455 F.2d 957; or (2) as a matter of law the losses claimed are too remote a consequence of the closure of the Industrial Canal Locks to constitute recoverable damages, Petition of Kinsman Transit Co., 388 F.2d 821 (2 Cir. 1968). Cf. Petition of Kinsman Transit Co., 338 F.2d 708 (2 Cir. 1964).

The plaintiffs claim they are clearly entitled to recover their damages, and seek to distinguish the cases cited by defendant. In Robins, for example, the time charterers of a vessel were seeking recovery for detention of the vessel resulting from negligent damage during shipyard repairs. The owners of the vessel had settled and released "all their claims." Robins thus held that an owner whose revenue-producing property is detained may indeed recover, but that one who happened to have a contract with the owner cannot also recover for his impairment from the same detention of the same property. Thus, plaintiff Tex-Barge argues, if its customers were the parties seeking recovery, Robins would likely be applicable; but here it is the owner of revenue-producing property and is as entitled to recover as were the settling shipowners in Robins.

Plaintiffs also argue that Congress has established a duty of all persons to keep free of obstructions any navigable waterway of the United States, 1 and suggests further that this duty, if breached, will subject the person causing such obstruction to civil liability to whatever persons are injured thereby. That this civil remedy is available not only to the United States but to private parties or individuals as well as clearly established. In Lauritzen v. Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District, 2 the Court held that, while Federal navigation regulations prohibiting the obstruction of navigable waterways did not expressly provide for a cause of action for injured parties, such liability is clearly implied, and that civil liability is derived from 33 U.S.C.A. Section 403, pertaining to protection of navigable

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waters in favor of both the United States and private parties. Therefore, those who obstruct navigable waterways not only become liable to the United States, but in addition subject themselves to civil liability to any...

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