Markel Am. Ins. Co. v. Diaz-Santiago, No. 11-1101 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
In 2008, MDS purchased a vessel and executed a note in favor of FirstBank, secured by a preferred ship mortgage, under an agreement that required that they maintain insurance. In 2009, Customs and Border Protection seized the vessel as part of a drug enforcement action. The search and seizure damaged the vessel, significantly decreasing its value. Customs notified FirstBank, which initiated an administrative forfeiture proceeding, intervened in the criminal case, obtained voluntary dismissal of the indictment against the vessel, then submitted an insurance claim for "loss of the vessel including, without limitation, the value of the Bank's collateral, legal fees incurred in attempting to secure its release, as well as any applicable costs and interests." The insurer denied the claim. The district court granted FirstBank partial summary judgment and awarded $74,512.50 in attorneys' fees for costs and expenses incurred in securing release of the vessel and defending the validity of the policy. The First Circuit affirmed, finding no genuine issues of material fact.