Federal court grants motion for summary judgment in maritime case

By Charmaine Little | May 8, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – On April 26, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ironed out a complex case of a deal between maritime companies and granted a motion for summary judgment.

TPlaintiff ING Bank N.V. and defendant DryLog Bulkcarriers Ltd. each filed for one as the case is a consolidated one with ING Bank as the lead case plaintiff and Bomin Bunker Oil Corp. as the member case plaintiff. DryLog is also named as a defendant along with Bulk Finland M/V. 

The issue initiated when Bulk Finland was given marine fuel/bunkers in Balboa, Panama. Just weeks before the fuel was delivered, three other contracts were issued. Things got off track after Tatsuo Consulting Ltd. ordered fuel bunkers from OW Malta, which in turn ordered fuel it said it would give to the vessel from O.W. Bunker USA Inc. 

Ultimately, Tatsuo failed to pay OW Malto or ING Bank, and OW Malta and OW USA filed for bankruptcy before the invoices were due. That led to ING Bank and Bomin suing Bulk Finland for maritime lien and maritime breach of contract. The current court then consolidated the litigation. Both ING Bank and DryLog filed for summary judgment. 

The court first determined that Bomin doesn’t have a maritime lien against Bulk Finland. It pointed out that Bomin took on the role as the sub-subcontractor and took orders for the fuel from OW USA. “There is no material evidence that the owner of Bulk Finland selected or intended that Bomin act as a sub-subcontractor and physically deliver the fuel to Bulk Finland,” said the court. Ultimately, the facts that aren’t challenged prove that Bomin didn’t furnish the fuel bunkers to Bulk Finland from the owner of the vessel, or anyone authorized by the owner.

As for DryLog’s motion for summary judgment, Bomin said it was too early because there is still lots of discovery to be completed. Ultimately, the court said there was not a maritime lien in this case, and pointed out that contracts are not sufficient to establish it in dismissing Bomin’s complaint.

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