Liberty Woods Int’l v. The Motor Vessel Ocean Quartz — maritime — affirmance — Roth
The Third Circuit today upheld the dismissal of a shipping customer’s suit against a cargo ship, in rem, for damage to its cargo. The introduction explains:
Liability for the damage is governed by the carrier’s bill of lading, which contains a forum selection clause requiring suit to be brought in South Korea. LWI instead sought to bring an in rem suit against the Vessel in the District of New Jersey, arguing that the foreign forum selection clause violates the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) because South Korea does not allow in rem suits.
The court affirmed on the ground that the forum-selection clause doesn’t violate COGSA because in rem suits are not substantive rights under COGSA.
Joining Roth were McKee and Ambro; Ambro also concurred separately to note that in rem suits provide a way to impose liability and that COGSA requires that shippers have a means to collect damages against the value of the ship. Arguing counsel were Craig English of New York for the customer and Richard Whelan of Palmer Biezup for the ship.