MG+M The Law Firm’s maritime litigation practice group has had two recent successes, both of which resulted in case dismissals. A brief synopsis of each case can be found below.
Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London v. Bradford Marine, Inc. a Florida Corporation
This past October, MG+M secured a dismissal on a motion to dismiss for improper party and forum non conveniens. This matter arose from repair work performed by Bradford Grand Bahamas, Ltd on the M/Y Paradise Found, a 70-foot Hatteras yacht built in 2002. The plaintiff filed suit against Bradford Marine, Inc., a Florida Corporation with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alleging that Bradford Marine operated the yard in Freeport, Grand Bahama that serviced and repaired the M/Y Paradise Found. To argue that the court had jurisdiction over the matter and Bradford Marine, the plaintiff asserted that not only are both entities under a common ownership, but that Bradford Marine also advertises via its website service locations in both Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Freeport, Grand Bahama. As to liability, the plaintiff alleged that Bradford Marine performed service to the M/Y Paradise Found and that the negligent repair of the vessel resulted in the loss. In particular, the plaintiff argued that Bradford Marine negligently cleaned the vessel’s fuel system, which suffered fungal and microbial contamination as a result. This eventually led to power failure while the vessel was underway and resulted in the vessel’s grounding.
MG+M obtained persuasive and detailed affidavits from the principles of Bradford Marine that outlined its corporate structure. While both companies share common ownership, stockholders, and co-marketing via a website, the affidavits convincingly detailed why they are not common entities. Based on the motion and arguments at the hearing, the court was persuaded by the evidence and testimony before it. The court granted the motion to dismiss on the various points raised by the defense. The subject contract contained a forum selection clause that required suit to be brought in the Bahamas. In finding the contract enforceable, the court, based on arguments and supporting case law outlined in the motion, conducted a detailed analysis of the alternative forum and found same to be adequate. The court agreed that the plaintiff had sued the wrong party; it agreed with arguments on the principle of forum non conveniens; and it found that the underlying contract for the dockage and repair of the vessel was valid and enforceable.
The motion was drafted by Danielle Gauer and Russell Pfeifer. Jonathan Hernandez argued the motion and obtained a dismissal. Raul Chacon served as lead, supervising the matter.
View the Order on Motion to Dismiss here.
Jack Conrad vs. The Boat House of Cape Coral LLC and Kevin Code
This past November, MG+M secured an order granting motion for final summary judgment. The matter arose from a trip and fall from a seawall at The Boat House of Cape Coral. The plaintiff suffered serious facial, arm, and leg lacerations, as well as a traumatic brain injury with associated cervical spine injuries. While disembarking his boat, the plaintiff lost his footing as he mounted the adjacent sea wall, which caused him to fall between his vessel and the wall. The plaintiff alleged that the cause of his fall was a dangerous and defective portion of the seawall, the surface of which had eroded/cracked/chipped causing a tripping/slipping hazard to pedestrians. The plaintiff argued that the defendants failed to maintain the dock and to warn of its dangerous condition.
MG+M filed a motion for summary judgment as to liability. The team argued that the plaintiff failed to recognize what should have been obvious to him through the ordinary use of his senses. This resulted in his failure to exercise reasonable care for his own safety. MG+M also raised arguments that because the vessel was on a navigable waterway of the United States, the requirements of locality and nexus to establish admiralty jurisdiction over the subject accident were satisfied. The application of admiralty law imposes on the vessel owner an absolute and non-delegable duty to provide a seaworthy vessel to crew members and to provide a safe means of ingress and egress to and from the vessel. These duties are the sole responsibility of the vessel owner and not the dock owner. The plaintiff, as the vessel owner, failed to provide a seaworthy vessel and a safe means of ingress and egress which resulted in the accident. While the court was persuaded by the arguments raised concerning the application of the General Maritime Law of the United Sates, it did not need to address same. After reviewing the plaintiff’s testimony and pertinent exhibits depicting the condition of the seawall as detailed in MG+M’s motion and argued during the hearing, the court found that the condition was neither latent nor concealed, but was patent and obvious to ordinary observation and use of senses. The court accordingly granted summary judgment as to liability, effectively dismissing the matter.
The motion was drafted by Kaylin Grey. Gus Martinez argued the motion, and they collectively obtained the dismissal. Raul Chacon served as lead, supervising the matter.
View the Order Granting Motion for Final Summary Judgment here.