Rule C Vessel Arrests: Asserting a Maritime Lien

by | Aug 27, 2020 | Maritime Law

Injured maritime workers have numerous legal protections.  The law provides injured seamen a number of tools to protect their rights following an injury.  One of these is the use of a maritime lien, which is a claim that can be asserted against maritime property, such as a vessel.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that an action in rem may be brought to enforce a maritime lien. Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. R. C(1)(a).  Torts arising from the operation of vessels give rise to maritime liens. 46 U.S.C. 31301(5)(B). The lien arises and attaches to the vessel at the time the tort occurs. Moreover, a maritime lien may be defined as a property right that adheres to the vessel wherever it may go.  That a maritime lien / in rem cause of action exists for tortious personal injuries dates back at least to the 19th Century. See The Anaces, 93 F. 240 (4th Cir. 1899) (list of in rem cases arising out of maritime personal injuries).

Supplemental Admiralty Rule C provides the requirements for the Complaint in an in rem proceeding asserting a maritime lien against a vessel that an injury occurred on. The Complaint must: (1) be verified, (2) describe with reasonable particularity the property that is the subject of the action; and (3) state that the property is within the district or will be within the district while the action is pending. Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. R. C(2)(a)-(c). This is all that is required under the Supplemental Admiralty Rule C. Assuming an injured seaman files a Complaint that meets the requirements under Supplemental Admiralty Rule C, then he can seek an Order and Warrant for Arrest from the Court allowing the actual arrest of the vessel that the injuries occurred on.

Once the Motion is granted by the Federal Court, the vessel can be formally seized by the U.S. Marshal and possession relinquished to a substitute custodian.  The seaman will be required to pay various custodial costs regarding his possession of the vessel, including: fees for a substitute custodian, insurance coverage, and fees to store the vessel. These costs accrue daily, and are the responsibility of Plaintiff in the case.  However, the major benefit is that the arrest of the vessel allows a Plaintiff to take possession of an asset in order to secure any judgment issued following a trial.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in maritime personal injury and wrongful death litigation and the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured as a result of the negligence of another party. Spagnoletti Law Firm has lawyers admitted to practice in numerous states, including Texas, Florida and New York.  The firm has handled maritime lawsuits throughout the United States.  Our attorneys have previously brought numerous Rule C proceedings in order to arrest vessels involved in maritime accidents all over the world.

The experienced maritime attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one has been injured in a maritime accident. There are strict and short time limits on making claims related to vessel accidents, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.