United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division, Admiralty.
IN THE MATTER OF: THE COMPLAINT OF FREEDOM MARINE SALES, LLC, AS OWNER, AND FREEDOM BOAT CLUB, LLC d/b/a FREEDOM BOAT CLUB, AS OWNER PRO HAC VICE, OF THE M/V BLUES CHASER, A 2018 22' SWEETWATER 2286 (HULL No. GDY47874F818), ITS ENGINES, TACKLE, APPURTENANCES, EQUIPMENT, ETC., IN A CAUSE OF EXONERATION FROM OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY, Petitioners.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
P. FLYNN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Petitioners' Motion for Entry of Final
Default Judgment of Exoneration Against all Potential
Claimants (“Motion”) (Doc. 12). Upon
consideration, it is recommended that Petitioners' Motion
April 18, 2019, Petitioners filed a Complaint for Exoneration
from or Limitation of Liability (Doc. 1). Petitioners'
Complaint if filed under the Shipowners' Limitation of
Liability Act, 46 U.S.C §§ 30501, et. seq.
and Supplemental Rule F of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Petitioners seek an exoneration from or limitation
of liability for any injuries, death, damages, or losses of
whatever description arising from an incident involving the
M/V ‘BLUES CHASER (the “Vessel”). It is
alleged that on October 28, 2018, a passenger of the Vessel
sustained personal injuries as a result of falling on the
“slip and dock” and hitting the Vessel, which was
then located at Regatta Pointe Marina of Palmetto, Florida.
April 24, 2019, the Court entered its Order approving
Petitioners' Ad Interim Stipulation of Value and
Directing Issuance of Monition and Injunction (Doc. 6). Among
other things, the Court's Order required Petitioners to
publish the Notice of Monition in the “Bradenton
Herald” (as specified in Supplemental Rule F and
Local Admiralty Rule 7.06) once a week for four successive
weeks prior to the date fixed for the filing of claims, and
to mail a copy of the Notice of Monition to every person or
corporation known by the petitioners to have a claim against
the Petitioners arising out of the October 28, 2018 incident,
no later than the day of the second publication (Doc. 6).
Additionally, the Court's Order required all potential
claimants to file their respective claims with the Clerk of
the Court and to serve Petitioners' attorney with a copy
of their claims on or before June 7, 2019.
7, 2019, Petitioners filed an affidavit of proof of
publication of the Notice of Motion in the
“Bradenton Herald” (Doc. 9), and on June
13, 2019, Petitioners filed proof of mailing, via certified
mail, of a copy of their Complaint and the Court's Order
Approving Ad Interim Stipulation, Notice of Monition, and
Injunction to all known potential claimants to the Limitation
proceeding (Doc. 9-1).
14, 2019, pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, the Clerk entered a default against any
potential claimants who failed to file a claim by June 7,
2019 (Doc. 11).
19, 2019, Petitioners filed their current Motion seeking an
entry of final default judgment of exoneration from liability
against all potential parties who did not timely file claims
in this proceeding (Doc. 12). Petitioners' Motion is ripe
for consideration of the Court.
action to exonerate or limit liability from claims arising
out of maritime accidents, the Supplemental Rules for Certain
Admiralty and Maritime Claims of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure set forth strict deadlines for providing notice to
potential claimants and filing claims. Pursuant to
Supplemental Rule F(4):
[T]he court shall issue a notice to all persons asserting
claims with respect to which the complaint seeks limitation,
admonishing them to file their respective claims with the
clerk of the court and to serve on the attorneys for the
plaintiff a copy thereof on or before a date to be named in
the notice. The date so fixed shall not be less than 30 days
after issuance of the notice. For cause shown, the court may
enlarge the time within which claims may be filed. The notice
shall be published in such newspaper or newspapers as the
court may direct once a week for four successive weeks prior
to the date fixed for the filing of claims. The plaintiff not
later than the day of second publication shall also mail a
copy of the notice to every person known to have made any
claim against the vessel or the plaintiff arising out of the
voyage or trip on which the claims sought to be limited
Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. F(4). Once such notice has been given,
all claims “shall be filed and served on or before the
date specified in the notice provided . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. Supp. F(5). “If a claimant desires to
contest either the right to exoneration from or the right to
limitation of liability, the claimant shall file and serve an
answer to the complaint unless the claim has included an
cases arising under these rules, a default judgment will be
entered against any potential claimant who has failed to
respond to public notice of a complaint for exoneration from
and/or limitation of liability within the established notice
period so long as the petitioner has fulfilled “[its]
obligation to publish notice of the limitation proceeding . .
. the [n]otice expressly and clearly stated the deadline for
filing a claim and/or answer . . . and [the notice stated]
that a consequence of failing to file a timely claim and/or
answer was default and being forever barred from filing a
claim and/or answer.” In re Petition of
Holliday, No. 6:14-cv-1709-Orl-28DAB, 2015 WL 3404469,
at *3 (M.D. Fla. May 26, 2015) (citation omitted); see
also In the Matter of Reef Innovations, Inc., No.
11-cv-1703, 2012 WL 195531, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 6, 2012)
(noting that a party seeking a default judgment on a
complaint for exoneration from or limitation of liability
must first publish a notice of the action in a newspaper for
four consecutive weeks).
fulfilled their obligation to publish a notice of the
limitation proceeding once per week for four consecutive
weeks in the “Bradenton Herald, ” as
required by Supplemental Rule F(4) (Doc. 9-1). Further,
Petitioners have fulfilled their obligations by mailing, via
certified mail, a copy of their Complaint and the Court's
Order Approving Ad Interim Stipulation, Notice of Monition,
and Injunction, to ...