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United States v. Carnival Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 19, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CARNIVAL CORPORATION, et al, Defendants

For The United States Of America, Plaintiff: Benjamin Ryan Sweeney, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC; Michael A. DiLauro, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Torts Branch, Washington, DC; Steven E. Butler, U.S. Attorney's Office, Mobile, AL.

Carnival Corporation, Defendant: Alanson Trigg Chenault, George J. Fowler, III, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Michael Andrew Harowski, PRO HAC VICE, New Orleans, LA; Antonio Jose Rodriguez, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Fowler Rodriguez, New Orleans, LA; Mary C. Broughton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Fowler Rodriguez, Mobile, AL.

For BAE Systems SSY Alabama Property Holdings, LLC, Defendant: Albert Danner Frazer, Jr., Mary Margaret Bailey, Michael E. Upchurch, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Jay Nicklos Robinson, Frazer, Greene, Upchurch & Baker LLC, Mobile, AL.

For BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Alabama, LLC, Defendant: Brian P. McCarthy, LEAD ATTORNEY, McDowell Knight Roedder & Sledge, L.L.C., Mobile, AL; Samuel Fraser Reid, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Mobile, AL.

For M/V CARNIVAL TRIUMPH, her engines, tackle, gear, appurtenances, and all accessories, Defendant: Antonio Jose Rodriguez, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Fowler Rodriguez, New Orleans, LA; Mary C. Broughton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Fowler Rodriguez, Mobile, AL; Alanson Trigg Chenault, New Orleans, LA; George J. Fowler, III, PRO HAC VICE, New Orleans, LA; Michael Andrew Harowski, New Orleans, LA.

Page 1291

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Callie V. S. Granade, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the court on the motion of the United States for partial summary judgment (Doc. 68), the response of Carnival Corporation (Doc. 74) and the United States' reply (Doc. 78). For the reasons stated below, the court finds that § § 408 and 412 do not provide strict liability for damage incurred by the dredging vessel M/V WHEELER on April 3, 2013, and that the United States' motion is due to be denied.

I. Facts

This case arises from the allision of the M/V CARNIVAL TRIUMPH (" TRIUMPH" ) with the M/V WHEELER on April 3, 2013. The TRIUMPH is a cruise ship owned and operated by Carnival Corporation. (Doc. 1, ¶ 2). The TRIUMPH was undergoing repair at BAE Shipyard's facility on April 3, 2013, when a storm struck. (Doc. 1, ¶ ¶ 4, 8, 9). The TRIUMPH broke free from her moorings and drifted across the Mobile River and struck the M/V WHEELER, which was moored at the time. (Doc. 1, ¶ 10). The M/V WHEELER is a dredging vessel owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with its home-port at the New Orleans District. (Doc. 1, ¶ 11).

II. Discussion

The United States moves for partial summary judgment on the purely legal question of whether § § 408 and 412 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 applies when a cruise ship allides with a moored dredging vessel owned by the United States. The parties do not dispute the pertinent facts on this issue, but dispute whether these strict liability sections apply to an allision with a dredging vessel, especially where the dredging vessel was under repair at the time and was far away from the location where it had been used by the Army Corps of Engineers.

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