Maritime Safety News Today – 16th February 2008

Cargo ship sinks off eastern Philippines; five missing
Monsters and Critics.com – USA
405 kilometres south-east of Manila. Coast Guard personnel rescued 14 of the ship’s 19 crewmen immediately after the accident, but five remained missing.

Court Fines Companies in Liner Accident
The Associated Press
killing 15 people and injuring 29 a few weeks before the ship’s maiden voyage trip. In 2005, another person died of injuries suffered in the accident.

Death toll from Uganda boat crash rises to 30
Reuters – USA
“A team continues to investigate the cause of the accident and a report will be made public when ready,” Kubayi said. A cargo boat and a passenger ship 

Uberrimae fidei is alive and well

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the validity of the principle of uberrimae fidei as applied to marine insurance contracts.  Defendant fishing vessel owners insured their vessels with plaintiff marine insurers but failed to disclose that their policy with another company had been cancelled for non-payment of premiums and for failure to cooperate in the investigation of various marine casualties and oil spills that were the subject of claims.  After the fishing vessel owners submitted various claims, plaintiff insurers commenced an investigation and learned that the owners had failed to disclose certain material facts when they applied for the policy.  The insurers then brought this declaratory judgment action, seeking to have the policies declared void ab initio.   The court held that both the insured and the insurer in a marine insurance contract have a duty to maintain the highest standard of good faith (uberrimae fidei).  Violation of this standard by the insured in this case allows the insurer to void the marine insurance contract.   Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London v. Inlet Fisheries, Inc., No. 06-35383

Mariner’s claim against pilot association dismissed on technicalities

In an unpublished decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a claim filed by a mariner against various pilot boards based on the statute of limitations and failure to meet the age restriction. In the instant case, plaintiff mariner, who is an African-American, tried for a number of years to be accepted by the Crescent River Port Pilots Association and the Board of River Port Pilots Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans as an apprentice pilot. Eventually, he brought this action alleging discrimination on the basis of race. The court found that his older claims were barred by the statute of limitations and he could not succeed with the more recent claims because by then he was at least 40 years old, which exceeds the age eligibility for new apprentice pilots. The court took this action reluctantly, noting defendants’ “allegedly deficient record of including African-Americans in their number.”

Mitchell v. Crescent River Port Pilots Association, No. 07-30525 (5th Cir., February 14, 2008).

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