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PLAZA MARINE, INC. v. EXXON CORP.

January 6, 1993

PLAZA MARINE, INC. and PLAZA PETROLEUM, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
EXXON CORPORATION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN F. KEENAN

 JOHN F. KEENAN, United States District Judge:

 Introduction

 Before the Court is the motion of defendant Exxon Corporation, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCP"), for an order dismissing the plaintiffs' amended complaint for failure to state a legally cognizable claim. This is the second pre-answer motion that defendant has filed with this Court. In August of 1992, the Court granted defendant's first motion, dismissing plaintiffs' first complaint, but granting them leave to replead. See Plaza Marine, Inc., et al. v. Exxon Corp., Op. and Order, August 5, 1992, at 5 ["Plaza I"]. This is an admiralty action within the meaning of Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and consequently the Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (1). For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.

 Plaintiffs are in the business of selling diesel fuel to boats from a facility on Staten Island, New York. Plaintiffs allege that on December 19, 1989, the defendant negligently discharged oil into the Arthur Kill waterway. As a result of the spill, the United States Coast Guard temporarily suspended navigation on the Arthur Kill. In their first complaint, plaintiffs alleged that they suffered economic loss because

 as a result of the negligent discharge by [defendant] and the subsequent suspension of marine activity by the Coast Guard, Plaintiffs were wholly unable to conduct business and to sell marine diesel fuel to their customers during the period of December 31, 1989 until January 11, 1990 in that said customers could not navigate the waterway serving Plaintiffs' terminal in Staten Island.

 Complaint P 11.

 Plaintiffs now allege in their amended complaint that, in addition to their pure economic loss, they suffered injury to their proprietary interest in the terminal facility on Staten Island, New York, that it had leased from Petroport Terminal Corporation ("Petroport"). See Amended Complaint P 10. In particular, the plaintiffs allege that the oil from the spill "coated the terminal's loading and unloading facility thereby rendering the terminal unusable for its intended purpose until the facilities were cleaned." Id. Plaintiffs attach their terminal service agreements with Petroport as exhibits to the amended complaint. See id. P 8 & exhibits A-B. Finally, as they did in their first complaint, plaintiffs allege that Exxon breached its duty to prevent oil spills in waterways and, subsequently, plaintiffs sustained damages in the amount of $ 220,000 as a result of the lost business during the period that the waterway was closed. See id. PP 14-15.

 Discussion

 A. Applicable Standard

 In resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant FRCP 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all of the well-pleaded facts in the amended complaint. See Cooper v. Pate, 378 U.S. 546, 546, 12 L. Ed. 2d 1030, 84 S. Ct. 1733 (1964). The Court should not dismiss the amended complaint unless it appears beyond a doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle her to relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957).

 B. Analysis

 The only issue before the Court is whether plaintiffs' amended complaint satisfies the maritime tort requirement of physical injury to plaintiffs' person or proprietary interests, as set forth in Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint, 275 U.S. 303, 308-09, 72 L. Ed. 290, 48 S. Ct. 134 (1927). In Robins, the Supreme Court held that, absent a showing of injury to person or property, pure economic loss arising from a maritime tort is not recoverable, even if such losses were a foreseeable consequence of the defendant's conduct. 275 U.S. at 308-09; see Federal Commerce & ...


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