New admiralty case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The issues are bailments and COGSA. The case is QT Trading, L.P. v. M/V Saga Morus, et al, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 9619 and can be found here. Facts: QT purchased steel pipes from a company in China. That company chartered a ship for the transport of the pipes from China to the U.S. The vessel was owned by a third party who had chartered the ship to a fourth party. The pipes were delivered in rusty condition and QT brought suit against the vessel, in rem, the steel pipe vendor, the third party vessel owner, the fourth party vessel charter, and the operator of the vessel. NOTE: Gotta love these admiralty cases and their complicated defendant line-up! Issues: Were any of the defendants "carriers" for COGSA liability? If not, were any of the defendants liable under a bailment theory? Analysis: The complicating factor in this case was that the company who sold the pipes and who arranged the cargo to be shipped to the U.S. went bankrupt. The trial court granted summary judgment against QT for its claims against all the other parties, including the in rem claim against the vessel. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment because none of the other parties were "carriers" under COGSA (the bankrupt defendant certainly was one). Additionally, QT's bailment theory failed because in order to recover under a bailment theory, a property owner's goods must have been in the exclusive possession of a bailee. In this case, the bills of lading acknowledged that the goods were not in the exclusive possession of any party.
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