Following two earlier Freehill wins in OW Bunker cases, on August 24, 2016 Freehill partners Mike Unger and Gina Venezia, and associate Mike Dehart, achieved another victory in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, successfully defeating a lien claim by a physical supplier of bunkers. In this case, Aegean Bunkering (USA) LLC asserted an in rem claim against the vessel M/T AMAZON based on a purported maritime lien against the vessel in the amount of $981,708. The owners of the M/T AMAZON, acting through their management agent, Dynacom, had ordered bunkers from OW Bunker Malta, who in turn contracted with OW Bunker USA, who sub-contracted to Bergen Bunker, who then contracted with Aegean as the physical supplier. Aegean filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking a ruling that it held a valid maritime lien for the price of the bunkers. Alternatively, Aegean argued that it should be able to recover on the basis of unjust enrichment.
The multiple parties in the bunker supply chain all had potential claims against the vessel for the cost of the bunkers, as did ING Bank, which alleged that it held an assignment of OW Bunker’s accounts receivable. Therefore, we filed an answer to Aegean’s complaint, as well as a third party interpleader action, bringing into the case all the other parties with potential claims against the vessel. We then filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. After considering the contractual bunker supply chain, the court ruled there was no evidence that Aegean had supplied the bunkers on the order of”any party acting with authority from the owners of the vessel as required under the maritime lien act. Therefore, Aegean’s lien claim was denied and its complaint was dismissed. The court also rejected Aegean’s alternative theories including unjust enrichment. (Click Here for the Full Decision.)
In the case of O’Rourke Marine Services L.P. LLP v. the M/V COSCO HAIFA and M/V COSCO VENICE, Freehill, defending COSCO, previously obtained a decision on April 8, 2016 from Judge Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York holding that O’Rourke, the physical supplier of bunkers to the vessels, did not hold a maritime lien against the vessels. O’Rourke moved for reconsideration and on August 24, Judge Forrest, to whom the case had been re-assigned, denied O’Rourke’s motion, finding that Judge Scheindlin’s decision was correct on the law and the facts. Freehill attorneys: Partners Jim Ross and Gina Venezia, associate Mike Dehart. (Click Here for the Full Decision.)