American Petroleum and Transport v. City of New York, No. 12-4505 (2d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
American, a corporation in the business of transporting petroleum products by water, filed suit against the City for common law negligence and for violation of 33 U.S.C. 494, which required that a drawbridge over navigable water be opened promptly by the persons owning or operating such bridge upon reasonable signal for the passage of boats and other water craft. Due to a mechanical malfunction, which American alleged was the result of negligence, the City did not open the Pelham Parkway Bridge, delaying American's tug and barge for approximately two and a half days. At issue was whether, under maritime law, an owner of a vessel could be awarded damages for economic loss due to negligence in the absence of physical damage to its property. Although the court concluded that Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint has been overread to establish a rule barring damages for economic loss in the absence of an owner's property damage, the court believed that the rule has been so consistently applied in admiralty that it should continue to be applied unless and until altered by Congress or the Supreme Court.