The flotilla doctrine applies where vessels are owned by the same person, engaged in a common enterprise, and under a single command. The flotilla doctrine requires, for limitation for liability purposes, the owner’s tender of all the vessels in the flotilla, or the value thereof, pending resolution of the underlying claims.
Claimant was allegedly injured when a third party’s vessel collided with the M/V CROSBY MARINER. Claimant was a crewmember assigned to the M/V CROSBY MARINER. The M/V CROSBY EXPRESS were transporting a barge together at the time of the accident. Crosby Marine Transportation, LLC (“Crosby”) owned both the M/V CROSBY EXPRESS and the M/V CROSBY MARINER. The M/V CROSBY EXPRESS was the lead tug while the M/V CROSBY MARINER was attached to the port side of the barge to stabilize it while under tow. The decisions pertaining to the speed of the tow and navigation came from the captain of the M/V CROSBY EXPRESS.
Claimant sued Crosby and the owners of the third party vessel. Crosby filed a limitation action pursuant to the Limitation of Liability Act and supplied security in accordance with the value of the M/V CROSBY MARINER and its pending freight. Claimant filed a Motion to Increase Security arguing the applicability of the flotilla doctrine.
The Magistrate agreed with the Claimant.
Here, the CROSBY MARINER and the CROSBY EXPRESS were both owned by the same owner, Crosby. Additionally, both were engaged in a common enterprise, that is, towing the same barge. Further, both vessels were under Captain Naccio’s command. Accordingly, the Court finds that the flotilla doctrine applies in this case.
Accordingly, the Court ordered an appraisal of the M/V CROSBY EXPRESS and M/V CROSBY MARINER by a Court-appointed appraiser or for the parties to stipulate and agree to the valuation of both vessels and the freight involved.
Crosby Marine Transp., LLC v. Triton Diving Servs., LLC, CIV. 13-2399, 2014 WL 5026070 (W.D. La. Oct. 8, 2014)