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Showing posts from January, 2013

Miami Awash in Abandoned and Derelict Boats

As I have seen for myself when I navigate the Miami River and as reported in more detail in the Miami Today, publication date January 24, 2013, forty-two abandoned boats lie within the City of Miami's jurisdiction. The City Commission appears finally set to do something about this problem. City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has asked the City Manager and the administration to find a strategy for removing the vessels.

Boats that are abandoned in the waterways can pose a hazard to navigation and to the environment. The State of Florida needs to have a stronger commitment to provide clean, safe and enjoyable recreational boating on its waterways. The State of California administers a grant program to assist local agencies in removing abandoned vessels from the waterways. California also recently released a report on recommendations for reducing the number of boats abandoned in California. In addition, there are federal agencies that educate the various states and local municipalities on …

Virginia Court Rules No Punitive Damages Available Under LHWCA

In Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Minton, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed and remanded a decision of a jury on January 10, 2013, holding that the award of $12.5 million in punitive damages was inappropriately granted because punitive damages are a remedy prohibited by the terms of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act ("LHWCA").

Rubert Minton suffered injuries as a result of developing mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos while working on Exxon Mobile Corporation ("Exxon") ships during his employment at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company (Shipyard). Minton filed suit against Exxon under the federal LHWCA for failure to warn Minton of, and protect him from, the dangers associated with asbestos. The jury found in favor of Minton and awarded him compensatory damages, medical expenses, and punitive damages. Exxon appealed. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case back to the trial court.First, the Supreme Court upheld the j…

A Houseboat is Not a Vessel--USSC Rules in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach

As I blogged on October 4, 2012 at, Fane Lozman took his eviction by the city of Rivera Beach (the "City") from his houseboat to the U.S. Supreme Court during their fall session. The U.S. Supreme Court has now ruled that Lozman’s houseboat was a "floating home" and has ruled that his floating home is not a vessel.

In reading the decision, it was obvious by reading the first line of the decision that the Court had ruled in Lozman's favor. The houseboat was called a floating home, which was described as a house-like plywood structure with an empty bilge space underneath the main floor to keep it afloat. Don't all houses have empty bilge spaces underneath to keep them afloat? The Court noted that Lozman had the houseboat towed several times before deciding on a marina owned by the City.  After various disputes with Lozman and unsuccessful efforts to evict him from the marina, the Ci…

MLC's Entry Into Force and ISF's New Guidelines

With the launch of International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), I have received numerous queries from various sources in the maritime community. It is clear that many shipowners/operators will have a whole slew of new responsibilities to match up to. As part of its education efforts, the International Shipping Federation employers’ organization has published new guidelines to help operators to ensure compliance with MLC, which will enter into force in August 2013.

With the clock ticking, the guide takes shipping companies through their obligations under the ILO convention and illustrates how to apply ILO standards on board ships in a practical manner. This includes MLC requirements relating to seafarers’ contractual arrangements, oversight of manning agencies, work and rest hours, health and safety, crew accommodation, catering standards and new requirements concerning on board complaints procedures.
Compliance with all relevant standards can also be matched to …