The "Anangel Endeavour"
DMC Rating Category: Confirmed
This case notes is contributed by Alan M. Weigel, an attorney with Healy & Baillie, LLP of New York. Healy & Baillie are the International Contributors to the website for the USA
Murmansk Shipping Co. ("Murmansk") initiated a limitation of liability proceeding as owner of the "Ivan Susanin". In this proceeding, Anangel filed a claim for damages and an answer to Murmansk’s complaint. The cargo claimants also filed a claim against Murmansk. Anangel also filed its own complaint seeking exoneration or limitation of its liability and sought an order attaching the discharged cargo pursuant to Supplemental Admiralty Rule B(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In support of its motion for an order of attachment, Anangel alleged that cargo claimants had wrongfully abandoned and refused to discharge the cargo left behind in the number 2 hold and that the cargo claimants might be liable to Anangel for indemnity as a result of the both-to-blame clause in the bill of lading. Under a both-to-blame clause, cargo claimants bear the cost of damage to cargo resulting from a collision when both ships are at fault, to the extent that the cargo claim is paid by the carrying ship to the non-carrying ship. Thus in this case, Anangel alleged that the both-to-blame clause required the cargo claimants to indemnify Anangel, regardless of fault, against any liability it must pay to Murmansk for cargo claims.
By agreement of the parties, the attached cargo was sold and the funds from the sale held in escrow. Murmansk and the cargo claimants filed claims in Anagel’s limitation proceeding. The court consolidated the limitation proceedings into a single action. The cargo interests then moved for an order vacating (setting aside) the attachment, alleging that Anangel had no indemnity claim against it under the both-to-blame clause.
The cargo claimants also argued that Anangel’s claim was premature because it was based on indemnity, and their liability was contingent on Anangel’s liability to Murmansk, which had yet to be established.
On the second issue, the Court found that contingent claims are a permissible basis on which to maintain a maritime attachment. Since the cargo claimants could be liable to Anangel if the both-to-blame clause were enforced, and since the cargo claimants presented no exigent circumstances requiring the return of the attached funds, the court found it equitable to maintain the attachment.
The Court therefore denied the cargo claimants’ motion to vacate the attachment of the discharged cargo because Anangel had demonstrated reasonable grounds for the attachment, by virtue of the possibility that the both-to-blame clause could be enforced which, if it were, would give rise to an indemnity claim against the cargo claimants.
decision does not identify the form of the bill of lading.
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