Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vitol v. Primerose Shipping Co.

Feb 8: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, Case No. 11-1900. Appealed from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. The Appeals Court summarizes that Vitol, S.A. (Vitol) brought the underlying action in the district court against Spartacus Navigation Corp. (Spartacus) and Primerose Shipping Company (Primerose) (collectively S&P) seeking to "pierce the corporate veil" and enforce a judgment against S&P it had previously obtained against Capri Marine, Ltd. (Capri Marine). After determining that its exercise of admiralty jurisdiction was proper, the district court granted motions to dismiss and to vacate attachment filed by S&P. The Appeals Court affirmed the judgment of the district court.
    By way of background, the Appeals Court explains, "In September 2000, the vessel ALAMBRA was involved in a marine pollution incident (the Oil Spill) while in port in the country of Estonia. The ALAMBRA was owned by Capri Marine and chartered by Vitol at the time of the Oil Spill. Vitol brought suit against Capri Marine in the English High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Commercial Court, alleging that Capri Marine breached certain warrantees of seaworthiness resulting in the Oil Spill and resulting damages. Vitol prevailed in the English court, and obtained a judgment in 2005 against Capri Marine in the amount of $6.1 million plus costs and interest (the English Judgment). The English Judgment remains unpaid and now totals over $9 million with accrued interest. During the English litigation, the ALAMBRA was sold for scrap by Capri Marine to Aurora Maritime (Aurora) for approximately $2 million."
    The Appeals Court concludes, "In sum, we agree with the district court's holding that the allegations in the Amended Verified Complaint fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and dismissal was therefore warranted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Vitol's allegations are conclusory and contain legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. To the extent that the Amended Verified Complaint does properly allege facts, those facts do not show more than 'a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.' See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Because 'the well-pleaded facts do not permit [this] [C]ourt to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged but it has not "shown"—'that the pleader is entitled to relief."' See id. at 679. As with the Supplemental Rule E analysis, we conclude the district court did not err in granting S&P's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the Amended Verified Complaint."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Energy/OilSpill, #CA4]
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