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Havenbedrijf Rotterdam N.V. v. National Chemical Carriers, Ltd. Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

September 16, 2019

HAVENBEDRIJF ROTTERDAM N.V.
v.
NATIONAL CHEMICAL CARRIERS LTD. CO.

         SECTION “A” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JAY C. ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The following motion is before the Court: Motion to Dismiss or Transfer (Rec. Doc. 21) pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. This motion was filed by the Defendant National Chemical Carriers Ltd. Co. (“NCC”). Plaintiff Havenbedrijf Rotterdam N.A. (“the Port Authority”) opposes the motion. The motion, submitted for consideration on August 21, 2019, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is the Port Authority for the City of Rotterdam and is manager, operator, and developer of the port in Rotterdam, located in the Netherlands. (Rec. Doc. 12, ¶ 2, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint). Plaintiff alleges that on June 23, 2018, a vessel owned by the Defendant, named the M/T BOW JUBAIL, collided with a jetty in the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Id. at ¶ 8. This crash ruptured one of the vessel's fuel tanks and caused its bunker fuel to spill into the water. Id. at ¶ 9.

         After the spill, the M/T BOW JUBAIL left Rotterdam without providing any type of security to the Port Authority. (Rec. Doc. 23-1, p. 1, Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings). However, the Port Authority discovered that the M/T BOW JUBAIL and its NCC owned sister ship, the M/T BOW RIYAD, were headed to ports in the United States. Id. The Port Authority then filed an in rem action to arrest the M/T BOW JUBAIL in Texas and an action to attach the M/T BOW RIYAD. Id. at 1-2. The BOW RIYAD arrived in Louisiana first and was attached in this District. Id. at 2. Subsequently, the Defendant provided the Plaintiff with a Letter of Undertaking stating that the Defendant agreed to post security for $34, 000, 000 and appear in this Court to respond to both the in personam claim secured by the attachment of both ships and the in rem claim against the M/T BOW JUBAIL. Id. at 2.

         Plaintiff Port Authority claims that it has suffered approximately €28, 750, 000 of damages consisting of cleanup costs, physical damage, economic loss, and potential claims from third parties. (Rec. Doc. 15, ¶ 11, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint).

         Having answered the Plaintiff's complaint, Defendant NCC now moves this Court to dismiss or transfer this case to the Netherlands pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. (Rec. Doc. 21, Defendant's Motion to Transfer).

         II. DISCUSSION

         a. Governing Standards

         In resolving a forum non conveniens issue “the ultimate inquiry is where trial will best serve the convenience of the parties and the ends of justice.” Syndicate 420 at Lloyd's London v. Early Am. Ins. Co., 796 F.2d 821, 827 (5th Cir.1986) (quoting Koster v. Lumbermen's Mut. Casualty Co., 330 U.S. 518, 527 (1947)). “The general principle of the doctrine ‘is simply that a court may resist imposition upon its jurisdiction even when jurisdiction is authorized.'” Dickson Marine Inc. v. Panalpina, Inc., 179 F.3d 331, 342 (5th Cir.1999) (citing Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 507 (1947)).

         The first step in a forum non conveniens analysis is to determine whether there exists an adequate and available alternative forum for resolution of the dispute. Syndicate 420 at Lloyd's London, 796 F.2d at 828 (citing Perusahaan Umum Listrik Negara Pusat v. M/V Tel Aviv, 711 F.2d 1231, 1238 (5th Cir.1983)). The second step of the forum non conveniens inquiry involves the balancing of public and private interest factors.

         The private interest factors to be considered by the Court relate primarily to the ...


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