Marine company ordered to clarify negligence complaint

By Elizabeth Alt | May 24, 2018

MIAMI -- The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has issued an order granting a third party’s motion to dismiss a suit alleging indemnity and contribution after the party was sued for negligence in repairing a boat.

The court order was dismissed for lack of cause of action by Judge Beth Bloom on May 11.

AIG Property Casualty Company sued two companies on behalf of their insured Pissaro Properties, Ltd, alleging they were owed the amount of the claim they had to pay their insured after a boat propeller that Bradford Marine Inc. was contracted to fix by Pissaro was delivered six months after the vessel was contracted to be fixed. Bradford Marine then filed a third party complaint against Florida Marine Propulsion Corp., which had sent the propeller, alleging Florida Marine’s negligence resulted in sending two incorrect propellers before finally sending a correct part.

Florida Marine sought to dismiss the third party complaint for indemnity and contribution under Florida law, arguing “a common law claim for indemnity requires allegations” that the fault lies solely with the defendant, and “that a special relationship exists between the plaintiff and the defendant”. Florida Marine requested the suit be dismissed without prejudice or for the court to require a clarified brief to explain the exact claims Bradford is alleging.

Bradford argued the issue is governed by maritime law, and does not apply to Florida laws, alleging “the oral contract between Bradford Marine and Florida Marine contains an implied promise by Florida Marine to perform the work in a diligent and workmanlike manner and it is the breach of this promise that gives rise to a claim for indemnity.”

Florida Marine did not deny that maritime law can govern the issue but expressed their “confusion as to whether Bradford Marine is asserting claims for indemnity, contribution, breach of contract, negligence or breach of implied warranty of workmanlike performance.”

Bloom stated that “dismissal with leave to amend is warranted as Bradford has failed to state a claim”, noting Bradford did not provide any specifics about the alleged relationship between Bradford and Florida Marine, or pleaded the existence of a repair contract, an implied warranty or breach of implied warranty.

Bloom added that Bradford “fails to provide notice of Bradford Marine’s invocation of the court’s admiralty jurisdiction or maritime law” because they did not assert “any affirmative assertion that maritime law applies” in its third party complaint.

The order granted Florida Marine’s motion to dismiss and ordered Bradford Marine to file their amended pleading “that properly pleads the elements of an indemnity claim under maritime law arising from the breach of the warranty of workmanlike performance” as well as a separate claim for contribution."

U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida, case Number 17-cv-62578-BLOOM/Valle

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