United States v. Jantran, No. 13-7060 (10th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
The Miss Dixie was a cargo line boat operated by defendant-appellant Jantran, Inc., a company involved in maritime transportation on the Verdigris River in Oklahoma. The Miss Dixie struck and extensively damaged a lock maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. After repairing the lock, the Corps sued Jantran for the costs of repair. The district court dismissed the Corps' suit, concluding that federal law did not allow the Corps to seek in personam damages directly from the owners of a vessel that damages a structure on navigable waters. As the court found, the applicable statute, the Rivers and Harbors Act, only allowed in rem claims against the vessel that caused the damage. After review, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that the Act did not authorize in personam actions against the owners of the vessel. The Act only allowed the Corps to proceed in rem against the vessel itself. The Court therefore affirmed the district court's ruling.