Pan-Alaska Fisheries, Inc. v. Marine Const. & Design Co., 369-72C2.

Decision Date06 October 1975
Docket NumberNo. 369-72C2.,369-72C2.
Citation402 F. Supp. 1187
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Washington
PartiesPAN-ALASKA FISHERIES, INC., a corporation, and IDS Leasing Corporation, Plaintiffs, v. MARINE CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN CO., a corporation, et al., Defendants. NORTHERN COMMERCIAL COMPANY, a Delaware Corporation, d/b/a N. C. Marine, Third-Party Plaintiff, v. FRAM CORPORATION, a Foreign Corporation doing business in the State of Washington, Third-Party Defendant.

Lane, Powell, Moss & Miller, Gordon W. Moss, Seattle, Wash., for Pan-Alaska Fisheries, Inc.

Reed, McClure, Moceri & Thonn, William R. Hickman, Seattle, Wash., for N. C. Marine.


SOLOMON, District Judge.

This case was remanded to this court from the Court of Appeals for further consideration of damages in light of United States v. Reliable Transfer, 421 U.S. 397, 95 S.Ct. 1708, 44 L.Ed.2d 251 (1975).

In findings of fact and conclusions of law entered April 2, 1974, I found that defendant N. C. Marine was negligent in installing in plaintiff Pan-Alaska's fishing vessel ENTERPRISE an engine with oil filters which it knew were defective. I found that one or both of these oil filters malfunctioned and caused a fire in the vessel.

I also found that Pan-Alaska was negligent and that, as a result of such negligence, the fire spread and the vessel was lost. Pan-Alaska had rebuilt the ENTERPRISE with no engine shutoff controls outside the engine room. It failed to train the crew in firefighting techniques and failed adequately to familiarize the crew with the vessel. Pan-Alaska's engineer failed to remain in the engine room when the engine was accelerated to "full ahead" after the first filter cracked. When the fire broke out, the crew failed to take available steps to cut the oxygen supply that was feeding the flames.

N. C. Marine's installation of an engine with defective filters was the primary cause of the fire.

Pan-Alaska's failure to clean the tanks of contaminated fuel and some of Pan-Alaska's other acts of negligence enumerated in the findings probably were also significant causes of the fire. These and other failures were largely responsible for the spread of the fire which sank the vessel.

In my findings I found that if the plaintiff had not been negligent, the damages resulting from the fire would have been $1,000.00 or less. Nevertheless, that amount is not the limit of N. C. Marine's liability.

On April 2, 1974, I applied the ancient admiralty doctrine of divided damages. In Reliable Transfer, decided May 19, 1975, the Supreme Court abolished the doctrine of divided damages except for a small class of cases:

"We hold that when two or more parties have contributed by their fault to cause property damage in a maritime collision or stranding, liability for such damage is to be allocated among the parties proportionately to the comparative degree of their fault, and that liability for such damages is to be allocated equally only when the parties are equally at fault or when it is not possible fairly to measure the comparative degree of their fault." 95 S.Ct. at 1715-1716.

Therefore, the standard to be applied here is comparative negligence.

Culpability, not causation, is the standard by which...

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8 cases
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • April 7, 1986
    ...(W.D.Wash.1976); Linehan v. United States Lines, Inc., 417 F.Supp. 678, 689 n. 17 (D.Del.1976); Pan-Alaska Fisheries, Inc. v. Marine Construction & Design Co., 402 F.Supp. 1187, 1188 (W.D.Wash.), vacated on other grounds, 565 F.2d 1129 (9th Cir.1978). In the instant case, however, the Bruss......
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • October 22, 1985
    ...resulting damage to the ship because the casualty could have been averted if the plaintiff had taken appropriate action. See 402 F.Supp. 1187, 1188 (D.Wash.1975). Because the district court held that strict liability did not apply in admiralty cases, the decision was subsequently vacated an......
  • Eaton v. McLain
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • October 31, 1994
    ...of "The Duty Issue," infra.4 See e.g., Gele v. Wilson, 616 F.2d 146, 147-48 (5th Cir.1980); Pan-Alaska Fisheries, Inc. v. Marine Constr. & Design Co., 402 F.Supp. 1187 (W.D.Wash.1975), vacated on other grounds, 565 F.2d 1129 (9th Cir.1977); State v. Kaatz, 572 P.2d 775, 782, (Alaska 1977); ......
  • Pan-Alaska Fisheries, Inc. v. Marine Const. & Design Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • December 13, 1977
    ...for the loss of the Enterprise and that Pan-Alaska was two-thirds responsible. The court adjusted the damages accordingly. See 402 F.Supp. 1187 (W.D.Wash.1975). Pan-Alaska NEGLIGENCE THEORY As mentioned, the trial court found N. C. Marine alone liable to Pan-Alaska under the theory of negli......
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