Sep 12, 2018

Dismissal in the 5th Circuit Maritime Law Case

Deutsch Kerrigan maritime attorney Francis J. Barry obtained a dismissal of all claims against our client in a maritime law case in the U.S. 5th Circuit on August 2, 2018.

The owner and cargo insurer of electrical transformers transported by ship from Rotterdam to New Orleans and then by rail and truck to St. Gabriel, Louisiana, sued the Non Vessel Operating Common Carrier, the Vessel Charterer, the railroad, and the trucker which performed the transportation for over $1.5 million in damage to the cargo occurring during the ocean and land transportation. A Himalaya Clause in the NVOCC's multi-modal through bill of lading granted certain immunities to the NVOCC's subcontractors, including our client the trucker Berard Transportation. The District Court granted our client a summary judgment, dismissing the cargo damage claim against it resulting in the plaintiffs appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The Court of Appeals had to decide for the first time if the through bill of lading's Himalaya Clause trumped the terms in the other transportation contracts executed between the parties, under the guidelines laid down in the  U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in Norfolk So. R.R. Co. vs. Kirby (2004) and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. vs. Regal-Beloit Corp. (2010). The Court of Appeals discussed the legal regime of international multi-modal shipping and the uniformity of U.S. admiralty law in affirming the District Court and dismissing all claims against the trucker, the railroad, and the  ocean carrier.

The case is Royal Smit Transformers, et al vs. Onego Shipping & Chartering, B.V., et al, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-30543 (August  2, 2018).


Attorney(s) mentioned in this post:

Frank Barry

 Francis J. Barry