Otal Investments Ltd. v. M.V. Clary

494 F.3d 40, 2007 AMC 1817 (2007)

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Otal Investments Ltd. v. M.V. Clary

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
494 F.3d 40, 2007 AMC 1817 (2007)

Facts

Three vessels were underway in the English Channel, in a heavily trafficked area under foggy conditions, all approaching a location where an east-west route crossed a north-south route. The M/V Kariba was traveling west at 16 knots. The M/V Tricolor was traveling west at 17.9 knots close behind the Kariba and was about to overtake the Kariba on its starboard side. The M/V Clary was traveling north at 13 knots and was on a collision course with the Kariba. As the ships rapidly converged, the Clary finally turned to starboard in order to avoid colliding with the Kariba by passing behind it. By this time, the Kariba had made a hard starboard turn itself to avoid the Clary, but in doing so the Kariba ran straight into the port side of the Tricolor. None of the vessels sounded their foghorns, communicated with each other, or slowed their speed prior to the collision. The Tricolor listed, capsized, and sank. After the collision, the single crewmember on the bridge of the Clary adjusted course to pass to the west of the collision, ignored the distress call from the other vessels, and erased the charts. Additionally, the Clary’s logbook was altered to claim that the conditions had been clear at that time and that two additional crewmembers had been on deck. Otal Investments Ltd. (Otal) (defendant), the owner of the Kariba, filed a complaint in federal district court seeking exoneration or a limitation of liability. Numerous claimants, including the Clary, the Tricolor, and owners of cargo lost on the Tricolor (claimants) (plaintiffs) filed claims against Otal. The district court held that the accident was solely the fault of the Kariba. Otal and some of the claimants appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hall, J.)

Concurrence (Newman, J.)

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