PA company sues ship owner after unsecured boat damages property during Hurricane Ike

Marilyn Tennissen Oct. 28, 2008, 6:49am

M/V Ms. Cordelia

A barge company in Port Arthur is suing the owner of a ship that was left unattended during Hurricane Ike and smashed into its property.

Sabine Towing and Transportation Co. Inc. filed a maritime tort against the M/V Ms. Cordelia and the ship's owner Global Geophysical Services Inc. on Oct. 20 in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas-Beaumont Division.

Sabine Towing was started in Port Arthur in 1909 and was acquired by Kirby Inland Marine in 1992.

The plaintiff's original complaint states that the M/V Ms. Cordelia and M/V Global Scout, owned by Global Geophysical of Houston, were in the vicinity of Freeport, Texas, when Hurricane Ike was forecast to make landfall along the Texas coast. Both vessels then headed east to avoid the storm.

The hurricane then made a turn to the northeast and was expected to make landfall near Galveston.

On Friday, Sept. 12, the afternoon before the storm's arrival, the boats tied up to a dock adjacent to Sabine Towing's property in Port Arthur. The suit states that the Ms. Cordelia and the Global Scout were left unattended.

Wind and/or storm surge from the storm caused the Ms. Cordelia to drift and eventually run aground on Sabine's property. According to the Global Geophysical company Web site, the Ms. Cordelia is a 150-foot, cable-handling catamaran.

"The resulting damage to Sabine's property is presently estimated at $200,000," the complaint states.

Sabine alleges that Global Geophysical's act of leaving the vessels unattended constitutes negligence.

Sabine asserts a lien for damages caused by a vessel in navigable waters and seeks to enforce the claim against the M/V Ms. Cordelia, in rem, and against Global Geophysical Services Inc., in personam.

The plaintiff is asking that the Ms. Cordelia be condemned and sold to pay Sabine's claim, with interest and costs. Upon sale of the vessel, Sabine is asking the court to order that the proceeds be paid into the registry of the court for payment of any judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Christine Z. Carbo of Houstin is representing the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield.

Case No. 1:08-cv-614-TH

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