request, inter alia, that the vessels be arrested and sold to
satisfy the plaintiffs' claims.
On October 30, 1989, Defendant Gifford Marine Inc.
("petitioner") filed two Complaints for Exoneration from or
Limitation of Liability ("petitions"), pursuant to the security
provisions of the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851,
46 U.S.C. § 181-189 ("Limitation Act"), and Supp. Fed.R.Civ.P.
F,*fn2 in which it claimed, inter alia, that even if it is
found liable as owner of the F/V Cape Fear and/or the F/V
Little Gull, its liability is limited by the Limitation of
Liability Act to $590,000.00, the value of its interest in the
F/V Cape Fear and $500,000.00, the value of its interest in the
F/V Little Gull, at the time of the alleged incident. Gifford
Marine then filed a Motion for Ad Interim Stipulation declaring
then it was posting security with the Court in these amounts in
the form of a letter of undertaking executed on behalf of St.
Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co.
On January 23, 1990, plaintiffs/claimants filed claims and
answers to Gifford Marine's petitions, maintaining, inter
alia, that the break in the cable was caused by faulty acts of
the defendant vessels in violation of the Submarine Cable Act
and international law. They further assert that such law
supersedes any liability limitation allowed to Gifford Marine
provided by the Limitation Act. Furthermore, they contend that
there should be no limitation to liability because Gifford
Marine has offered insufficient security in both form and
amount, in violation of Supp.Fed.R.Civ.P.F. They, therefore,
request that Gifford Marine's Complaints for Exoneration from
or Limitation of Liability be denied and that the court enter
judgment against the defendants/petitioner for all damages and
costs to plaintiffs/claimants. On April 2, 1990, the three
actions were consolidated.*fn3
Claimants bring this motion for a judgment on the pleadings, on
the single issue as to whether petitioner's liability, if any,
arising from the break in the TAT-7 cable on August 10, 1989,
may be limited, pursuant to 46 U.S.C. § 183(a).
II. LEGAL DISCUSSION
Claimants demand a judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). On ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion, a court
"must accept as true all of the well pleaded facts alleged in
the complaint and may not dismiss the action [or claim] unless
the court is convinced that `the plaintiff can prove no set of
facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to
relief.'" Bloor v. Carro, Spanbock, Londin, Rodman & Fass,
754 F.2d 57, 61 (2d Cir. 1985) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-02, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)).
Consequently, for purposes of this motion, we accept as true
Gifford Marine's assertions that the alleged misconduct was
done without its "privity or knowledge."
This court has jurisdiction pursuant to United States
Constitution article III, § 2, cl. 1;*fn4 28 U.S.C.A. § 1333
(West 1966 and Supp. 1991); 47 U.S.C. § 33, the jurisdictional
statute of the Submarine Cable Act, and 46 U.S.C.A. App. § 740
(West 1975 & Supp. 1991).*fn5 See Diamond State Tel. Co.
Atlantic Refining Co., 205 F.2d 402, 406 (3d Cir. 1953);
Offshore Tel. Co. v. M/V Waterbuck, M/V State Point,
465 F. Supp. 1160, 1163 (E.D.La. 1979); All America Cables & Radio,
Inc. v. The Dieppe, 93 F. Supp. 923 (S.D.N.Y. 1950).
A. The Legislative Acts
1. The Limitation of Liability Act of 1851
The Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. § 181-195
(originally enacted as the Act of March 3, 1851, ch. 43, 9
Stat. 635) allows the owner of a vessel, liable for damages, to
consolidate all claims arising out of an incident and to limit
his total liability. See e.g., 46 U.S.C. § 183, 185;
Supp.Fed.R.Civ. P.F. In particular, 46 U.S.C. § 183(a)
provides, in relevant part:
The liability of the owner of any vessel, whether American or
foreign . . . for any loss, damage, or injury by collision, or
for any act, matter, or thing, loss, damage, or forfeiture,
done, occasioned, or incurred, without the privity or knowledge
of such owner or owners, shall not, except in the cases
provided for subsection (b) of this section [increasing the
limitation amount for cases involving loss of life or bodily
injury], exceed the amount or value of the interest of such
owner in such vessel, and her freight then pending.
The Limitation of Liability Act was enacted in order to
protect, and to encourage investment into, the emerging
American shipping industry so as to bolster its competitiveness
in the mid-Nineteenth Century particularly with respect to
British shipping merchants, who were already protected by a
similar English statute. See University of Texas Medical
Branch at Galveston v. United States,