The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPRIZZO
Plaintiffs, Bosung Industrial Company, Ltd. (now known as Woochang Construction Company) and Dong Bo Sangsa Company, Ltd., commenced this action pursuant to this Court's admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1333 (1982), seeking to recover under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"), 46 U.S.C. §§ 1300-1315 (1976), for damage to a cargo of concrete pipe. The pipe was shipped on March 14, 1979 from Port Newark, New Jersey to Dammam, Saudi Arabia aboard the vessel "Aegis Sonic." Defendants are the charterer of the vessel, Atlanta Shipping Corporation, and its agent, Maritime Transport Overseas, Inc. (now known as Atlanta Maritime Corporation) (collectively referred to as "Atlanta").
The action was tried before this Court, and the parties have submitted post-trial briefs and proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
On March 1, 1979, Bosung purchased reinforced and non-reinforced concrete pipe of varying lengths and diameters from Kerr Concrete Pipe Company ("Kerr") at a cost of $91,616.65. Exhs. 5, 27.
It was to be used as drainage pipe for a state guest house project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Also on March 1, 1979, Bosung and Atlanta entered into a booking note, which provided for the shipment of Bosung's pipe from Newark, New Jersey to Dammam, Saudi Arabia on board the "Aegis Sonic."
Kerr trucked the pipe from its factory in Hammonton, New Jersey to Port Newark. Bosung's representatives inspected the pipe at the pier and discovered that some of it was missing or damaged. Kerr replaced the damaged and short-delivered pieces at no cost to plaintiffs. United Terminals then loaded the pipe on board the vessel between March 12 and March 14, 1979 under the supervision of Captain Jorg Remy, Atlanta's Port Captain. On March 14, Atlanta issued a clean bill of lading for the carriage of "818 pcs. concrete pipe."
Exhs. 3, 3a.
On March 14, 1979, the "Aegis Sonic" departed from Port Newark and proceeded to Port Hamilton, Bermuda where, from March 17 through March 29, other cargo destined for the Middle East was loaded on board.
The "Aegis Sonic" left Bermuda on March 29 and then sailed past Dammam, Saudi Arabia (the destination of plaintiffs' pipe) to Basrah, Iraq, in order to discharge the cargo that had been loaded in Bermuda. It arrived in Basrah on April 27; however, due to port congestion, unloading was not completed until May 23. The ship finally arrived at Dammam on May 23 and proceeded to discharge plaintiffs' shipment of concrete pipe. On May 24, the Dammam Port Authority halted the discharge with approximately fifty percent of the pipe discharged and on the pier.
Bosung was not notified of the vessel's arrival until after port officials had stopped the discharge of its cargo.
Bosung's representative, Mr. Ku Hyung Chang, then informed Atlanta that he would not consider accepting delivery of the cargo until it was inspected. Exh. 6. Mr. Chang arrived from Riyadh on May 25 with an independent surveyor from Lloyd's of London, Captain Habib Ali Al-Aidroos, defendants' representative, Mr. Pierre Duchemin, and two other Bosung employees. A survey performed by Captain Al-Aidroos showed that eighty-five to ninety percent of the pipe was damaged by chipping at the ends, cracking, and crushing, and that only a small portion of the smaller diameter pipe had escaped damage. Exh. 9.
After inspecting both the pipe on the pier and that on the vessel, and after consulting with the project engineers, Mr. Chang informed defendants that the pipes were totally damaged and useless to plaintiffs and that he would therefore not accept delivery. The parties thereafter entered into several days of negotiations, during which Bosung unsuccessfully sought to obtain from defendants an adequate guarantee.
Pursuant to those negotiations, a joint committee was formed and met on May 30 to inspect the cargo on the pier; however, it was unable to resolve the dispute.
On June 2, defendants reloaded the pipe on board the "Aegis Sonic" and sailed to Sharjah, United Arab Emerates, where it was ultimately abandoned on June 5. A survey performed in Sharjah, at Atlanta's request, found eight-five to ninety percent of the pipe to be damaged at the time of its discharge in Sharjeh.
Nine months later, plaintiffs purchased asbestos cement pipe in Saudi Arabia as a substitute for the consignment of concrete pipe. Plaintiffs then commenced this action to recover the cost of the replacement pipe. Atlanta counterclaimed for $81,654.84 to compensate it for the expenses it incurred as a result of Bosung's refusal to accept the pipe and for $4,282.01 in deadfreight.
The case is governed by COGSA since a bill of lading was issued as part of the contract of carriage.
See 46 U.S.C. §§ 1300, 1301(b). Under COGSA, the shipper establishes a prima facie case by showing that the carrier received the cargo in good condition and that the cargo was in a damaged condition when discharged from the vessel. Westway Coffee Corp. v. M.V. Netuno, 675 F.2d 30, 32 (2d Cir. 1982); see Caemint Food, Inc, v. Brasileiro, 647 F.2d 347, 351-52 (2d Cir. 1981). The burden then shifts to the carrier to prove that the loss or damage falls within one of the exceptions to COGSA set forth in 46 U.S.C. 1304(2).Westway Coffee ...