Unpublished Disposition, 895 F.2d 1418 (9th Cir. 1988)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 895 F.2d 1418 (9th Cir. 1988)

Craig Charles TAYLOR, Plaintiff-Appellant,v.The AHMEDNAGER QUEEN; Darrell Allwein, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 88-15061.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Argued and Submitted Oct. 6, 1989.Decided Feb. 13, 1990.

Before SKOPIL, FLETCHER and FERNANDEZ, Circuit Judges.


Craig Taylor appeals from the order of the district court which granted summary judgment in favor of the Appellees, The Ahmednager Queen and Darrell Allwein. The district court held that Mr. Taylor had failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on his claim for a salvage award. We affirm.


On July 10, 1987, The Ahmednager Queen, owned by Darrell Allwein, lost its rudder during a storm at sea. Mr. Allwein radioed for assistance and Mr. Taylor responded to his request. While Mr. Taylor was en route, Mr. Allwein informed Mr. Taylor that he "would make it worth his while." Despite high seas, Mr. Taylor reached the The Ahmednager Queen, and towed her safely to the harbor at Shelter Cove.

The following morning, Mr. Taylor approached Mr. Allwein requesting compensation for services rendered the previous night. Negotiations followed, the result of which was that Mr. Allwein offered and Mr. Taylor accepted $250.00.1  Mr. Taylor memorialized the transaction by giving Mr. Allwein a handwritten receipt for $200.00 "for towing of disabled boat."

On January 19, 1988, Mr. Taylor filed a complaint for salvage, alleging that his ship had sprung her seams as a result of being battered by the storm during the salvage service performed for Mr. Allwein.


The district court had jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1333. We have jurisdiction over this appeal. 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

We review the granting of a summary judgment motion de novo, and apply the same standards that the trial court does. Cohen v. Paramount Pictures, Corp., 845 F.2d 851, 852 (9th Cir. 1988). We exercise no greater scope of review in admiralty cases than in any other case that we review. Clifford v. M/V Islander, 751 F.2d 1, 4-5 (1st Cir. 1984).


Mr. Allwein has tried to characterize the transaction on the morning of July 11, 1987, as a contract for salvage. We disagree. There clearly can be no contract for services after the services have been fully performed. We, therefore, conclude that although there was a contract regarding salvage, no contract for salvage existed. We note that a transaction that cannot meet the standards required to establish a valid contract under ordinary contract law, certainly cannot meet the more "exacting" standards required under salvage law. 3A Benedict on Admiralty: The Law of Salvage, Sec. 160, 12-4 (M.J. Norris ed.1987) ("Benedict").

We, instead, view this transaction as a settlement agreement wherein Mr. Taylor agreed to accept $250.00 for the settlement of his salvage claim.2  There is no impediment to settling admiralty claims, nor should there be. Benedict, Sec. 159 at 12-1. Mr. Taylor now tries to assert that the $250.00 was merely compensation for the costs that he incurred and should not bar his claim for salvage. We find this argument to be without merit. We have only granted an additional award for salvage where a salvor performed services that were not covered by an agreement. See THE SEA FOX, 199 F.2d 600 (9th Cir. 1952); See also Lago Oil & Transport Co. v. United States, 218 F.2d 631 (2d Cir. 1955).

Mr. Taylor's services were covered by an agreement. We see nothing in this settlement to indicate that it only covered the costs incurred instead of the entire service provided. Mr. Taylor could not have mistakenly believed that this agreement was only a partial accounting of the services provided, for he and Mr. Allwein had no pre-existing contract under which such a partial accounting would have been asserted. Moreover, Mr. Taylor himself testified in his deposition that he believed the $250.00 given to him by Mr. Allwein was the total compensation for his services, and that he felt "that the incident was closed." He even memorialized the settlement in a signed receipt. We acknowledge that had Mr. Taylor known the extent to which his ship had been damaged by the storm, it is doubtful that he would have settled his claim for $250.00, but that does not change the result.

Parties to a dispute neccessarily take some risk in settling a claim. We favor the amicable settlement of claims and will not disrupt the binding nature of that settlement because a party incorrectly evaluates his case. MWS Wire Industries, Inc. v. California Fine Wire Co. Inc., 797 F.2d 799, 802 (9th Cir. 1986). Mr. Taylor claims that he made a poor bargain and he is now asking this court to rescue him from it. We are unable to do so.


The district court properly found that Mr. Taylor was precluded from bringing a claim for salvage because he had previously settled that claim with Mr. Allwein.



This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited by the courts of this circuit except as provided by 9th Cir.R. 36-3


The agreement was for $200.00 for services provided with a $50.00 gratuity


There has been some debate between the parties over whether Mr. Taylor's services were for towage or for salvage. We view the assistance provided by Mr. Taylor as a salvage service. See The Flottbek, 118 F. 954, 960 (9th Cir. 1902)