United States District Court, D. Minnesota
In the Matter of the Complaint of Archer Daniels Midland Company and American River Transportation Company LLC for Exoneration from, or Limitation of, Liability, Petitioners.
ORDER FOR DEFAULT AND DISMISSAL WITH
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the Stipulation of Dismissal,
(Dkt. 64), between Claimant Union Pacific Railroad Company,
Third-Party Defendant Upper River Services, LLC, and
Petitioners Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and American
River Transportation Company LLC (ARTCO). Also, before the
Court is Petitioners' Motion for Default Judgment. (Dkt.
62.) For the reasons addressed below, the Court dismisses
with prejudice the claims between Petitioners, Union Pacific
Railroad Company, and Upper River Services, LLC, and grants
Petitioners' Motion for Default Judgment.
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and American River
Transportation Company LLC (ARTCO) commenced the instant
action pursuant to the Limitation of Liability Act (LOLA), 46
U.S.C. § 30501 et seq., and Rule F of the
Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset
Forfeiture Actions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(hereinafter Fed.R.Civ.P. Supp. R. F). LOLA was enacted in an
effort to encourage investment in the American shipping
industry. Universal Towing Co. v. Barrale, 595 F.2d
414, 417 n.3 (8th Cir. 1979). It provides that a
shipowner's liability to damage claimants is limited to
the shipowner's interest in the vessel and the
vessel's freight, provided the loss is incurred without
the shipowner's privity or knowledge. Id. at
417; see also 46 U.S.C. § 30505(a).
shipowner seeking to invoke LOLA must file a complaint for
limitation of liability in a United States District Court and
deposit with the court an amount representing the value of
the vessel and its freight or give security for such value.
46 U.S.C. § 30511(a), (b); Fed.R.Civ.P. Supp. R. F(1).
The district court then must stay all related claims against
the shipowner and issue a notice to all potential claimants
that requires potential claimants to file their claims with
the court within a specified time, 46 U.S.C. § 30511(c);
Fed.R.Civ.P. Supp. R. F(3), (4), and serve those claims on or
before the date specified in the notice, Fed.R.Civ.P. Supp.
R. F(5). The district court may then resolve the vessel
owner's claim to limitation of liability as to all claims
that have been timely filed. Universal Towing Co.,
595 F.2d at 417. Default judgment in the shipowner's
favor against all properly noticed potential claimants who
have not timely filed a claim is the appropriate remedy once
the time for filing claims specified in the notice has
expired. See In re Am. River Transp. Co., 800 F.3d
428, 441 (8th Cir. 2015) (Riley, J., concurring).
April 26, 2018, ADM and ARTCO filed a Complaint seeking
exoneration from or limitation of liability with respect to a
marine casualty that occurred on or about October 26, 2017.
Barge ART-35157, an inland river hopper barge being towed by
the M/V COOPERATIVE VENTURE, an inland river towboat, allided
with the left descending bridge pier of the Pigs Eye Bridge,
which is located near Mile Marker 835 on the Upper
Mississippi River in South St. Paul, Minnesota. Petitioners
subsequently filed a Motion for Issuance of Notice and a
Motion for Approval of Ad Interim Stipulation for Value and
for Issuance of Order Restraining Suits.
Court's May 23, 2018 Order approved the ad interim
stipulation for value, ordered the issuance of notice, and
restrained law suits. (Dkt. 16.) The Order also directed all
parties asserting claims arising out of or connected with the
aforementioned allision to file their claims with the Clerk
of Court for the District of Minnesota no later than July 9,
2018. Between June 8, 2018, and June 29, 2018, Petitioners
published the Notice of Complaint for Exoneration from or
Limitation of Liability in the Minneapolis Star
Tribune once per week for four consecutive weeks, as
provided by Rule F(4) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty
or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. Union
Pacific Railroad Company, owner and operator of the Pigs Eye
Bridge, filed a claim in the form of an Answer to the
Petitioners' Complaint, (Dkt. 19), and asserted a
third-party claim against Upper River Services, LLC. Upper
River Services, LLC, timely answered the third-party
complaint. (Dkt. 34.)
September 9, 2019, ADM and ARTCO, Union Pacific Railroad
Company, and Upper River Services, LLC, filed a Stipulation
of Dismissal, agreeing to dismiss with prejudice all claims
between them, pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. 64.)
September 9, 2019, ADM and ARTCO filed a Motion for Default
Judgment seeking entry of default judgment “against any
and all persons or entities who have not filed claims in this
limitation proceeding.” (Dkt. 62.) The basis for
Petitioners' request is the Court's May 23, 2018
Order, the expiration of the claim-filing deadline of July 9,
2018, and Petitioners' demonstrated compliance with this
Court's May 23, 2018 Order.
record establishes that Petitioners properly filed the
Complaint initiating this action pursuant to LOLA and
Supplemental Admiralty and Maritime Claims Rule F. Notice to
potential claimants was issued, and the deadline for filing
claims (July 9, 2018) has passed. Only Union Pacific Railroad
Company timely answered Petitioners' complaint and
pleaded in Upper River Services, LLC. The
parties-Petitioners, Union Pacific Railroad Company, and
Upper River Services, LLC-have stipulated to dismiss with
prejudice the claims between them, pursuant to Rule
41(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Thus, default judgment is warranted in favor of Petitioners
against all properly noticed potential claimants who did not
file a claim before the July 9, 2018 deadline. See In re
Am. River Transp. Co., 800 F.3d at 441.
on the foregoing analysis and all the files, records, and
proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Union Pacific Railroad Company's claims against
Petitioners and Upper River Services, LLC, are
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and with each