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Mediterranean Shipping Co. v. Elof Hansson

August 29, 1988

MEDITERRANEAN SHIPPING CO., PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELOF HANSSON, INC. (OF SWEDEN) AND ELOF HANSSON, INC. (OF NEW YORK), DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Newman, Senior Judge United States Court of International Trade, sitting by designation

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Introduction

In this admiralty case brought under 28 U.S.C. s 1333 plaintiff, Mediterranean Shipping Co. ("Mediterranean"), an ocean carrier based in Geneva, Switzerland, seeks recovery of $41,580.91 for unpaid freight charges under two bills of lading from defendant Elof Hansson, Inc. (Of Sweden) ("Hansson"), a commodities trading house and the shipper. *fn1 The two bills of lading under which plaintiff seeks to recover, state: "FREIGHT PREPAID." Plaintiff asserts that despite the fact the bills of lading show the freight charges were "PREPAID," plaintiff in fact did not receive payment, but rather extended credit to defendant. Hansson asserts that pursuant to its "Cost and Freight" ("C. & F.") *fn2 contract with its supplier, Fenesty, Inc. ("Fenesty"), and letter of credit in favor of the latter, Hansson paid Fenesty all freight charges due on the bills of lading in reliance upon their being marked prepaid by plaintiff's local agent, Containership Agency, Inc. ("Containership"). Unfortunately, Fenesty terminated its business without paying over to plaintiff the freight monies Fenesty had received from defendant under the C. & F. contract. Hansson insists that under these circumstances it should not be required to pay the freight charges twice.

Fenesty made the cargo booking for the shipments in question with Containership through Leyden Shipping Corp. ("Leyden"), a New York based freight forwarder. *fn3 Containership's action in this case will be deemed the action of its principal, Mediterranean.

The Record

As a preliminary matter, the court notes the parties requested that the court proceed under Local Admiralty Rule 16 for a summary determination and submitted depositions and other documentary evidence. However, the court declined to proceed under Rule 16 because plaintiff's claim exceeds the $25,000 limitation imposed by the rule. See Order filed June 20, 1988.

A non-jury trial was held on August 17, 1988 at which the parties, by agreement, submitted solely the depositions and other documentary evidence previously presented under Local Rule 16.

The record includes the depositions of the following persons to which reference is made herein:

1. Lars Edlund, Vice President in charge of the Shipping Division of Hansson (Exh. 1).

2. Allen Clifford, a Line Manager for Containership (Exh. 2).

3. Brian S. Leyden, Vice President and Secretary of Leyden (Exh. 3).

4. Nicola Arena, Vice President of Containership (Exh. 4).

After presentation of oral arguments, the court informed counsel that judgment would be entered for defendant dismissing the complaint with written findings of fact and conclusions of law to follow. This memorandum opinion constitutes the court's findings of ...


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