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City of Milwaukee v. Cement Division, National Gypsum Company

Supreme Court of the United States
515 U.S. 189 (1995)


In 1979, the ship E.M. Ford sank while docked in the City of Milwaukee (the City) (defendant). A severe storm caused the Ford to break loose from the moorings and crash into the slip, which resulted in the Ford sinking. The owner and the insurer of the Ford (collectively, plaintiffs) sued the City under admiralty law for operating an unsafe slip and failing to warn of the hidden dangers of the slip. The City counterclaimed for the damage that was caused to the slip due to the negligence of the plaintiffs in failing to man the ship or monitor the weather. After a trial and an interlocutory appeal, fault was apportioned as two-thirds against plaintiffs and one-third against the City. The parties agreed that the total damages due to the plaintiffs was $1,677,541.86. The plaintiffs then sought $5.3 million in prejudgment interest. The trial court denied the claim for prejudgment interest, and the plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The court of appeals reversed, and the City petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for review.

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