[B]Case Name: [/B][I]In Re Donjon Marine Co.
[/I][B]Date Decided: [/B]October 7, 2009
[B]Court: [/B]U.S.D.C. District of New Jersey
[B]Judge: [/B]Judge Wigenton
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 3241687[B]Background:
[/B]Employee, Earnest Moore twisted his right ankle while working as a deckhand for Donjon Marine Co. (“Donjon”), and sought to recover for injuries under a negligence cause of action seeking damages in excess of $75,000.
Donjon filed a Complaint for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability with this Court. According to Donjon the vessel was valued at approximately §17,950 in 2007 but has devalued to 15k in 2009.
Earnest Moore moved to dismiss the exoneration from or limitation of liability arguing that a letter dated June 28, 2007 triggered the period of statute of limitation and thus Donjon should be dismissed with prejudice because it was filed after the permitted period.
[/B]Did the Court grant or dismiss Donjon’s exoneration from or limitation of liability?
[/B]Under 46 U.S.C. 30511(a) the owner of a vessel can bring a limitation of liability… within 6 months after claimant gives written notice of the claim.
The notice of the claim must inform the vessel owner, in writing, of an actual or potential claim which [I]may [/I]exceed the value of the vessel. The start of the six month statutory period will run only upon its appearing that there is a [I]reasonable [/I]possibility that the claims will exceed the value of the ship.
Donjon claims that the letter sent by the employee was insufficient as notice and therefore did not start the time limit. Donjon claims that it did not provide notice because Donjon could not know the nature or cause of injuries and that the employee claimants sought damages from the petitioners.
This Court found that, although the letter did not specify the amount of damages sought, that Donjon had the burden of investigating further whether the amount of the claim could exceed the value of the vessel.
Therefore, this Court held that Donjon failed to comply with the limitation period.
Once the vessel owner receives notice of a pending claim and it appears, reasonably, that the value sought may exceed the worth of the vessel, than the vessel owner has six months to file a Limitation of Liability claim. [/B]
[B]Steve Gordon *[/B]