Procedural Posture
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Procedural Posture

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Plaintiff corporation sought review from an order of the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco (California), which granted defendant common carrier's motion to dismiss the corporation's admiralty action on the basis that the action was barred by the one-year limitation period of § 3(6) of the United States Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 46 U.S.C.S. § 1303(6).

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Overview

The common carrier issued certain bills of lading wherein it agreed to carry steel products under deck from Belgium to certain United States ports. However, the common carrier carried the goods on deck unprotected, which caused them to arrive in a rusted condition. The corporation filed a complaint for breach of contract two years later, asserting that the common carrier's conduct constituted a deviation so great as to deprive it of all defenses under the bills of lading under the United States Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (act). The common carrier argued that the action was barred by a one-year limitation contained in § 3(6) of the act, codified at 46 U.S.C.S. § 1303(6). On review, the court held that there were no historical, legal, or legislative precedents on the scope of the one-year limitation period construing § 1303(6), or those dealing with other provisions of the Hague Rules. The court held that breach of a contract for underdeck stowage would not entitle the corporation to avoid discharge from liability conferred on the common carrier by § 1303(6).

Outcome

The court affirmed judgment granting the common carrier's motion to dismiss the corporation's admiralty action.