Man Ferrostaal, Inc. v. M/V Akili, No. 11-486 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Appellants, the M/V Akili, its owner, and manager, appealed from the district court's judgment holding that it was liable in rem for damage to cargo shipped aboard the vessel. Ferrostaal cross-appealed from the holding that the owner and manager were not liable in personam under a bailment theory. At issue was whether (1) an in rem proceeding rendering the Akili liable for damage to, or loss of, cargo was unavailable in this matter because a vessel was not a "carrier" within the meaning of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA), 46 U.S.C. 30701, and (ii) the free-in-and-out provision in the Voyage Charter Party purportedly absolving the Akili of in rem liability was enforceable. The court held that the first issue was essentially irrelevant because a vessel's in rem liability for damage to cargo existed under maritime common law, not COGSA, for a violation of a carrier's contractual or statutory obligations. The court resolved the second issue against enforcement of the free-in-and-out provision so far as it might be construed to prevent in rem liability of the vessel. In doing so, the court did not decide whether COGSA applied as a matter of law to this voyage because, even if it did not, the Voyage Charter Party's Clause Paramount contractually incorporated the Hague-Visby rules prohibiting a carrier from contracting for a waiver of its obligations regarding damage to cargo. The court also held that there was no in personam liability for the owner and manager where the carriers remained responsible for delivery of the goods and maintained exclusive control and custody over the cargos through agents they hired directly.