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BILBAO v. M/S CIUDAD DE IBAGUE

August 28, 1957

Victoriano BILBAO, also known as Victoriano Bilbao Larrazabal, Libelant,
v.
M/S CIUDAD DE IBAGUE and Flota Mercante Grancolombiana, S.A., Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ABRUZZO

The libelant, a seaman, has filed his libel in this Court against the respondents seeking judgment on five separate causes of action.

In the first cause he seeks to recover $ 1,200 wages which he alleges were wrongfully withheld.

 In the second cause he seeks to recover a statutory sum equal to two days' pay for each and every day during which payment was delayed pursuant to the provisions of 46 U.S.C.A. §§ 596 and 597 which sum he alleges will equal $ 20,000 by the time this action is reached for trial.

 In the third cause he seeks to recover $ 25,000 for injuries allegedly sustained during the month of February, 1957, while claimant's vessel was en route from Buenaventura to Philadelphia.

 In his fourth cause he seeks $ 50,000 for injuries sustained, claiming negligence and unseaworthiness of the vessel.

 In his fifth cause he seeks $ 25,000 for maintenance, cure and wages lost that he otherwise would have earned had proper medical attention been given to him.

 The claimant-respondent has appeared specially and solely for the purpose of making an application to this Court to decline jurisdiction and of contesting jurisdiction. It now moves that an order be made declining jurisdiction and dismissing the libel on several grounds:

 (1) That the parties to this action are all aliens.

 (2) That claimant-respondent and the vessel are all the proper subjects of Colombian law.

 (3) That libelant signed on board the vessel in Colombia for round-trip voyages beginning and ending in that country.

 (4) That libelant agreed that his rights should be governed by the laws of Colombia.

 (5) That the vessel has from the date of the accident up to the time the libel was filed regularly called at Colombian ports; and

 (6) Libelant has no justifiable claim for wages or for statutory penalty wages because he deserted the vessel.

 The libelant is a citizen of Spain and signed aboard the M/S Ciudad De Ibague, a vessel owned by the respondent, Flota Mercante Grancolombiana, S.A., pursuant to a written hiring contract. The moving papers aver that he signed the agreement in Colombia but in his affidavit submitted in opposition to this motion libelant alleges that he signed it in Hamburg, Germany. He denies that he deserted the ship but that he contracted tuberculosis and suffered a hernia while employed by the claimant-respondent, Flota Mercante Grancolombiana, S.A., and stayed in New York to obtain medical aid. The libelant claims that he has no intentions nor means of going to Colombia to collect his wages and the other sums he is demanding in his libel. He further contends that a declination of jurisdiction would be tantamount to a denial of justice because he does not ...


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