First Circuit Affirms Judgment of Exoneration by Default in Limitation Case
May 10, 2023
On May 2, 2023 the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts’ Judgment of Exoneration by Default in favor of a fishing vessel owner for all claims arising out of a certain fishing trip ending in or around June of 2017. Olaf Aprans represented the vessel owner both in the trial court and on appeal.
A former deckhand filed a complaint for personal injuries in Massachusetts State Court, after which the vessel owner filed an action under the Limitation of Liability Act in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts. The deckhand filed an answer, but failed to file a claim under Rule F of the Supplemental Admiralty Rules. The District Court accordingly entered Judgment of Exoneration by Default upon the motion we filed on behalf of our client.
On appeal, the claimant argued that an answer was sufficient to be a claim under Rule F and that even if it was not, he should have been granted leave to file a late claim. Claimant argued that the District Court should not have applied the “excusable neglect” standard when evaluating whether to grant such leave.
The First Circuit rejected Claimant’s arguments and held the District Court applied the correct standard. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, emphasizing both the trial court’s wide discretion and the need to maintain the efficient administration of the admiralty rules. The First Circuit additionally adopted the Eighth Circuit’s holding that filing a Claim is a standing prerequisite to filing an Answer.
A copy of the decision can be found here.
Federal Court finds Fishing Company does not have to pay Maintenance and Cure
December 3, 2020
The District of Massachusetts entered summary judgment in favor of a fishing company finding that it was not liable to pay maintenance and cure to a former deckhand after he claims he aggravated his original injury when working on a different vessel a few weeks after his work release.
The deckhand claimed he injured his back in November 2017 onboard a scalloper fishing out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Following his release to work in early October 2018, the deckhand began working on another vessel a few weeks later, after which he claims he aggravated his back pain. The deckhand’s attorneys incorrectly claimed maintenance and cure from the first vessel.
Olaf Aprans, representing the owner if the first vessel, filed a Declaratory Judgment Action, seeking a finding of no liability to pay maintenance and cure. The USDC entered Summary Judgment in favor of our client, finding the deckhand was at maximum medical improvement when released to work in October 2018, and that any aggravation thereafter was the responsibility of deckhand’s subsequent employer.
The decision was initially entered by Hon. United States Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley and later affirmed by Hon. United States District Judge Leo T. Sorokin. See the Court’s decision here.
Federal Judge finds Nathan Carman directly or indirectly caused boat to sink
November 4, 2019
After nearly three years of litigation and a two-week trial at the District of Rhode Island, the Court entered Judgment for our clients denying Nathan Carman's insurance claim and dismissing all of his counterclaims.
The case involved the disappearance of Vermont Resident Nathan Carman and his mother, Linda from Connecticut, after they departed Rhode Island to go fishing on his 31' boat. Nathan Carman was found over a week later in a life raft by a passing freight ship, M/V ORIENT LUCKY, but his mother has never been found.
Prior to departing Rhode Island on September 17, 2016, Carman replaced his bilge pump and removed the vessel's trim tabs leaving four holes in his transom within inches of the waterline . . . (Full Story here)
See the Court's full Decision here.
Federal Judge issues Protective Order enforcing Self-Critical Analysis Privilege
June 4, 2018
Representing Defendant-Vessel J. Burroughs (Dist of Mass.) of the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts Federal Judge Allows Assertion of Self-Critical Analysis Privilege and Issues Protective Order preventing Plaintiff from obtaining Defendant-Shipmanager's Post-Casualty Internal Investigation Report.
See the Court's full Decision here.
Read Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly story on the Decision here.
Check out UK P&I Club's recap of Liam's presentation on the topic during their 2019 Bodily Injury Seminar, here.
Summary Judgment in
Declaratory Judgment Action
September 26, 2018
After mold took over the interior of his yacht, a career insurance agent tried getting crafty with the wording in his hull policy, first claiming hull damage resulting from a fire (but there was no ignition) and second claiming vandalism (from a mysterious sander). David Farrell obtained summary judgment dismissals of both odd claims.
Successfully Defended Widow in Action Brought by Late Husband's Estate
April 23, 2019
Widow's late husband's estate brought action to obtain various assets. Liam O'Connell successfully defended a motion for summary judgment filed by the estate before obtaining a judgment for his client after a trial in Essex Superior Court. Judgment entered on behalf of FSO's client despite complicated issues surrounding the assets, including a prenuptial agreement, trusts, and wills.
Successfully Obtained Summary Judgment in Zoning Appeal
October 15, 2018
Representing an abutter in a judicial review of a decision by the City of Gloucester City Council, Liam O'Connell obtained summary judgment against the applicant who desired to build a house on a private beach.