Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Complaint of F/V Misty Blue, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 18, 2018

In re COMPLAINT OF F/V MISTY BLUE, LLC and SEA HARVEST, INC. as owners and/or owners Pro Hac Vice of F/V MISTY BLUE, FOR EXONERATION FROM OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

          OPINION

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court upon the parties' responses to the Court's March 12, 2018 Order, [Dkt. No. 18], requiring Plaintiffs F/V Misty Blue LLC and Sea Harvest, Inc. (the “Plaintiffs”) to show cause why this matter should not be transferred, pursuant to Supplemental Admiralty and Maritime Claims Rule F(9), to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (the “District of Massachusetts”). For the following reasons, the Court will transfer this action to the District of Massachusetts.

         I. Background

         This case arises from the sinking of the F/V Misty Blue (the “Misty Blue”), a commercial fishing vessel. The Misty Blue departed on a clamming voyage from Fairhaven, Massachusetts on or about December 2, 2017, and was lost at sea on or about December 4, 2017, off the coast of Massachusetts. When the Misty Blue sank, two of her crew members were rescued, but two others- Jonathan Saraiva and Michael Roberts (the “Decedents”)-did not survive. The Massachusetts State Police recovered the bodies of the Decedents, and Coast Guard personnel in Massachusetts are currently investigating the Misty Blue's sinking. Plaintiffs allege that the only item salvaged from the Misty Blue is a life raft.

         Plaintiffs were the titled owner (F/V Misty Blue, LLC) and owner pro hac vice (Sea Harvest, Inc.) of the Misty Blue in 2017. F/V Misty Blue, LLC, is a Rhode Island LLC wholly owned by Fishing Vessel Enterprises, Inc., a Florida corporation whose sole shareholder is a resident of Florida. (See Affadavit of Sam Martin (“Martin Aff., ” Dkt. No. 21-1, at ¶5). Sea Harvest is a New Jersey corporation with its principal place of business in Cape May, New Jersey. (Id. at ¶ 1).[1]

         The Purported Claimants are the Estates of the Decedents, which are represented by Roberts's widow, Tammy (“Mrs. Roberts”) and Saraiva's father, Phillip (“Mr. Saraiva”). Mrs. Roberts and Mr. Saraiva are both Massachusetts residents, as were the Decedents.

         The survivors of the Misty Blue's sinking, Captain Erik Arabian and Colby McMullen, are believed to be residents of Massachusetts. The Purported Claimants have also indicated that several vessels-namely the F/V Enterprise; the F/V Lorie Anne; the F/V Lauren and the F/V Mariette-were in the vicinity of the Misty Blue when she sank, and that the crews of those ships, believed to be Massachusetts based, are witnesses to the conditions surrounding the Misty Blue's sinking. In addition, the Purported Claimants have provided the names of (1) several former crew members of the Misty Blue, including former Captain Doug Capek, who are believed to live and/or work in Massachusetts and who are believed to possess information about the seaworthiness of the Misty Blue and the knowledge of her owners; William Rebelo, the former owner of a crane that was installed on the Misty Blue, who is believed to live and/or work in Massachusetts; and several other individuals, all believed to live and/or work in Massachusetts, who either performed work on the Misty Blue or were involved with her maintenance.

         On December 7, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability, pursuant to the Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. §§ 30501, et seq., seeking to limit their potential liability for the loss of the Misty Blue to $3150, the value of the remaining life raft. [Dkt. No. 1]. On December 13, 2017, the Court accepted Plaintiffs' Ad Interim Stipulation of Value for Security, valuing Plaintiffs' remaining interest in the Misty Blue at $3150, subject to an appraisement pursuant to Supplemental Admiralty Rule F(7) upon motion of any claimant. On the same day, the Court entered an Order (1) admonishing all persons with claims arising out of the sinking of the Misty Blue to file such claims in this Court by March 16, 2018; (2) enjoining further prosecution of any and all suits, actions, and proceedings relating to the sinking of the Misty Blue against Plaintiffs in any court; and (3) requiring Plaintiffs to publish public notice of the Court's Order and to mail a copy of such notice to the Estates of Saraiva and Roberts at each of the Decedents' last known addresses.

         On March 1, 2018, the Purported Claimants filed a letter with the Court[2], which the Court interpreted as a request for a pre-motion conference regarding a motion to transfer venue pursuant to the Court's Individual Rules and Procedures. [See Dkt. No. 9]. The Court held a telephone conference on March 12, 2018, at the conclusion of which it Ordered that Plaintiffs show cause, by March 26, 2018, why this matter should not be transferred, pursuant to Supplemental Admiralty and Maritime Claims Rule F(9), to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and extended the monition period to April 18, 2018. [Dkt. No. 18]. The parties' responses to that Order are currently pending.

         II. Legal Standard

         Venue-and transfer of venue-in admiralty suits for exoneration from or limitation of liability is governed by Supplemental Federal Rule of Civil Procedure F(9). Rule F(9) provides that

[t]he complaint shall be filed in any district in which the vessel has been attached or arrested to answer for any claim with respect to which the plaintiff seeks to limit liability; or, if the vessel has not been attached or arrested, then in any district in which the owner has been sued with respect to any such claim. When the vessel has not been attached or arrested to answer the matters aforesaid, and suit has not been commenced against the owner, the proceedings may be had in the district in which the vessel may be, but if the vessel is not within any district and no suit has been commenced in any district, then the complaint may be filed in any district.

         With regard to transfer of venue, Rule F(9) provides “[f]or the convenience of the parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, the court may transfer the action to any district, ” and that “if venue is wrongly laid the court shall dismiss, or, if it be in the interest of justice, the court may transfer the action to any district in which it could have been brought.”

         Rule F(9) is “similar to the transfer provision under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), and the analysis is familiar.” In the Matter of the Complaint of Weeks Marine, Inc., No. 16-1463, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77808 at *2, 2016 WL 3410166 (D.N.J. June 14, 2016); see also Advisory Committee Note to Supplemental Rule F(9)(“The provision for transfer is revised to conform closely to the language of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1404(a) and 1406(a), though it retains the existing rule's provision for transfer to any district for convenience.”). Accordingly, when deciding a motion for transfer of venue pursuant to Rule F(9), courts consider the factors enumerated in the rule (the same as those enumerated in § 1404): the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.