HomeCircuit Court Admiralty CasesMarine Insurance
Marine Insurance

The following are digests and case links to Circuit Court Admiralty Cases that have as an issue marine insurance:

Underwriters at Lloyd's v. Labarca
First Circuit Court of Appeals
August 2, 2001

Marine Insurance: Since the vessel was unseaworthy at the time she sank (because hoses that supplied sea water to air conditioning units were left unsealed after repair work) and this unseaworthy condition was the cause of the sinking, the underwriters were relieved of any obligation under the hull insurance policy.

Uffner v. La Reunion Francaise
First Circuit Court of Appeals
March 26, 2001

Procedure/Marine Insurance: In a suit based on diversity jurisdiction against an insurance company to recover for losses resulting from a vessel casualty, the place where that loss occurred is "substantial" for venue purposes under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a), which provides that venue is appropriate in "a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred," thus venue was proper in Puerto Rico where plaintiff's sailing yacht sank. 

New York Marine & General Insurance Co. v. Tradeline
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
September 28, 2001

Marine Insurance: The policyholder and cargo seller had been authorized by the cargo underwriter to issue certificates of insurance to its customers under an open cargo policy, thus it acted as the underwriter's agent in issuing the certificates. The prediction of severe rainy weather at the discharge port was a material fact that would have affected the underwriter's decision whether to issue extended coverage under the policy for rainwater damage and thus had to be disclosed under the doctrine of uberrimae fidae. The buyer's disclosure of that weather prediction to the policyholder/cargo seller (but not to the underwriter) before coverage was extended was sufficient since the policy holder/cargo seller was the underwriter's agent, thus the extended coverage was not void based on the doctrine of uberrimaefidae. Damages: The buyer could not recover under the extended coverage for cargo that had been deposited from lightering barges onto the shore area and was washed away as a result of rising tides and tidal waves and for other cargo that was damaged by the cyclone on shore because coverage terminated once the cargo had been delivered to "any other warehouse of place of storage" and was no longer in the "ordinary course of transit." Clause 12 of the Institute Cargo Clauses (C)did not cover the extra charges incurred in unloading, storing and forwarding the cargo to its destination since this resulted from the closing of the discharge port, which was not a risk covered under the policy. The district court properly refused to award attorneys' fees to the assureds because the underwriter did not act in bad faith in denying the claim or in instituting the declaratory action. The district court did not abuse its broad discretion with respect to prejudgment interest by applying the United States Treasury Bill rate, rather than the 17% rate urged by cargo interests.

Centennial Insurance v. Lithotech Sales
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
February 26, 2002

Marine Insurance: Under Wilburn Boat Co. v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., 348 U.S. 310 (1955), New Jersey law governs the open cargo policy, which was drafted, signed, and delivered between New Jersey corporations within New Jersey. In New Jersey, the terms of an insurance policy, absent ambiguity, should be given "their plain ordinary meaning." The clause at issue, which provided coverage for damages resulting from the issuance of fraudulent bills of lading, was clear and unambiguous, and, since there are no facts which even suggest that the bill of lading was fraudulent or that its acceptance caused the harm, plaintiff failed to articulate facts sufficient to invoke coverage under the the clause.

Fernandez v. Haynie
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 25, 2002

Marine Insurance/Admiralty Jurisdiction: A fishing vessel owner's contract claim against its broker for failure to place his insurance with an "A" rated domestic insurer was within the court's admiralty jurisdiction. 

Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. v. Seabulk Marine
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
November 26, 2001

Marine Insurance: The "General Third Party Liabilities" clause of builder's risk policy did not cover claims between the two principal assureds under the policy and the cross liabilities clause of the policy did not transform them into third-party claims, thus the underwriter was not responsible for the defense costs in a suit between the principal assureds arising out of a dispute related to the construction of a ship.

Adams v. Unione Mediterranea di Sicurta
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
August 14, 2000

Salvage: The law of salvage, rather than the law of finds, is applicable absent clear and convincing evidence that the owner of the sunken steel cargo made an express declaration abandoning title, thus where owner had not expressly abandoned cargo, but had assigned rights in the cargo to its underwriters, the underwriters retained title to the sunken steel cargo. Since the steel cargo had not been abandoned, the salvors through their salvage efforts did not become owners of the cargo and by selling the cargo were liable for negligent conversion. Salvors were, however, entitled to an offset for a salvage award since they had not acted in bad faith in salvaging the cargo. Marine Insurance: The negligent conversion was not an "accident" and thus the salvors' liability was not covered under the relevant general liability policy.

M/G Transporter Services v. Water Quality Insurance Syndicate
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
December 12, 2000

Marine Insurance: The underwriter had no obligation to defend or indemnify the assured for liability arising from claims against it under the False Claims Act (FCA) since the underlying complaint simply did not assert a Clean Water Act violation and because the policy excluded intentional conduct, which had been pleaded in connection with the FCA violations.

Assicurazioni Generali v. Black & Veatch
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
March 26, 2004

Marine Insurance: On July 20, 2000, a ship carrying the assureds' plant construction components departed Japan for the United States. No survey was conducted at loading. On July 24, 2000, the ship was caught in a typhoon, which caused severe damage to most of the components on board. The manufacturer replaced the damaged components at no cost, but they did not arrive until approximately six months after the originally scheduled delivery date. This delay resulted in additional costs of $38 million for the assureds.  Marine cargo underwriters sought judgment declaring no coverage because of a failure to comply with the policy' s survey requirement. The district court properly found that no survey was required and that the claim was covered under the policy's consequential loss provision. The policy failed to list the critical items that were subject to the survey requirement, nor were they properly added by a subsequent endorsement that lacked consideration.

Yu v. Albany Insurance Co.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
February 7, 2002

Marine Insurance: Since the assured owner did not notify the underwriter before the vessel' s captain was replaced, thus breaching the hull policy's "Captain Warranty" (which provided that the policy would be suspended when the vessel's captain was replaced unless the underwriter had approved the new captain in advance), the owner's claim under the policy for the total loss of the fishing vessel due to sinking was properly denied.

La Reunion Francaise v. Barnes
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 3, 2001

Marine Insurance/Admiralty Jurisdiction: A federal court has admiralty jurisdiction over a marine insurance policy that, besides covering damage to a boat while on the water, requires the policyholder to store his boat on land for half the year, insures against theft while on land, and limits navigation of the boat to inland waters of California.

Pacific Fisheries v. HIH Casualty & General Insurance
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
February  9, 2001

Marine Insurance: Under California law, a breach of even an immaterial warranty will void a policy where the policy expressly declares that it shall avoid it, thus the  vessel's P & I and Hull policies were void since the vessel was in breach of the policies' trading warranties at the time of the losses, although the losses were not caused by such breach; Jury Trials: The district court correctly denied plaintiff's untimely demand for a jury trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 39(b).

Quigg Brothers-Schermer Inc. v. Commercial Union
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 5, 2000

Marine Insurance: A barge owner's expenses in recovering construction barges that had broken away from their moorings during a storm qualified as sue and labor, which were excluded from the owner's P & I policy as expenses recoverable under hull insurance, thus there was no coverage under the P & I policy for such expenses.

Commercial Union Insurance v. Sea Harvest Seafood Co.
Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
June 11, 2001

Marine Insurance/Admiralty Jurisdiction: A claim under an open marine cargo insurance policy covering a shipment of frozen shrimp from Bangkok, Thailand to Philadelphia via California and Chicago was within the court's admiralty jurisdiction although the loss did occur during the Chicago to Philadelphia overland portion of the shipment. The cargo owner's claim of loss under the policy was properly denied by the district court under admiralty law since the loss resulted from a failure to attach a generator to the refrigerated container, which was not a loss due to "derangement or breakdown of the refrigerating machinery," as the term is used in marine insurance policies.

Transamerica Leasing v. Institute of London Underwriters
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
October 4, 2001

Marine Insurance: Based on the facts, the jury, not the district court on a motion for summary judgment, must determine whether Transamerica is an additional assured, a loss payee, or both. If the jury finds that Transamerica is an additional assured, or both an additional assured and a loss payee, then the primary assured's alleged non-disclosure does not affect Transamerica's coverage because the Policy is severable. If the jury finds that Transamerica is merely a loss payee, then the jury must decide whether the primary assured's alleged non-disclosure violates the doctrine of uberrimae fidei, thus voiding the Policy altogether.

Fireman's Fund Insurance v. Tropical Shipping
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
June 19, 2001

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): To invoke COGSA's package limitation, the carrier must satisfy two preconditions: first, the carrier must give the shipper adequate notice of the $500  limitation by including a "clause paramount" in the bill of lading that expressly adopts the provisions of COGSA; and second, the carrier must give the shipper a fair opportunity to avoid COGSA section 4(5)'s limitation by declaring excess value. Since the bill of lading provided sufficient notice of the limitation of liability and provided an opportunity to declare excess value, COGSA's package limitation applied to the shipment. The district court correctly defined a mobile television stage as the relevant COGSA package and applied the $500 package limitation to a claim for its total destruction since the bill of lading legibly and clearly described the stage as "one unit" or "package" and the shipper did not declare the value of the stage on the bill of lading. Marine Insurance: Florida law applies in resolving the inusurers "other insurance" dispute. When two insurance policies contain "other insurance" clauses, the clauses are deemed mutually repugnant and both insurers share the loss on a pro rata basis in accordance with their policy limits.

HIH Marine Services, Inc. v. Fraser
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
May 19, 2000

Marine Insurance: Under the doctrine of uberrimae fidei, a material misrepresentation on an application for marine insurance is grounds for voiding the policy. The insured's misrepresentation that the insured yacht was in its custody pursuant to a charter party was considered material since it might have had a bearing on the risk to be assumed by the insurer, thus the policy was void and the insurer had no obligation to pay a total loss claim. Choice of Law: American and Jamaican law on this marine insurance issue are largely congruent, thus the district court's decision to apply American law will not be addressed.

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