Sunday, April 19, 2009


"IN ADMIRALTY" - High seas drama, yes, even here in the middle of the country on Lake of the Ozarks! The long arm of Admiralty law has reached in to the "heartland" and arrested a vessel with a Maritime Lein for the bank that now owns it. On April 15, 2009 we were engaged to assist a certain Federal Agency (that wishes to remain unamed) in the arrest of a 36ft Carver, Trojan Express that was "locked up" by a marina, who refused to release it as they alleged there were storage and other fees owed to them. Apparantly negotiation between the bank and marina broke down, (bank is alleged to have agreed to pay a "fair" sum, but marina refused, holding out for more), after several months a Federal Court Order, signed by Chief Federal Judge of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri ordered the vessel be arrested "IN ADMIRALTY" - . Many boaters may not be aware that a Maritime Lein on your vessel is different than most other leins and usually takes priority over all other claims:

Maritime liens and mortgages
Banks which loan money to purchase ships, vendors who supply ships with necessaries like fuel and stores, seamen who are due wages, and many others have a
lien against the ship to guarantee payment. To enforce the lien, the ship must be arrested or seized. This is one of those remedies which must be brought in federal court and cannot be done in state court.
Maritime liens
A maritime lien is a lien on a vessel, given to secure the claim of a creditor who provided maritime services to the vessel or who suffered an injury from the vessel's use. Maritime liens are sometimes referred to as tacit hypothecation. Maritime liens have little in common with other liens under the laws of most jurisdictions.
The maritime lien has been described as "one of the most striking peculiarities of
Admiralty law". A maritime lien constitutes a security interest upon ships of a nature otherwise unknown to the common law or equity. It arises purely by operation of law and exists as a claim upon the property concerned, both secret and invisible, often given priority by statute over other forms of registered security interest. Although characteristics vary under the laws of different countries, it can be described as: a privileged claim,
upon maritime property, for service to it or damage done by it, accruing from the moment that the claim attaches, travelling with the property unconditionally,
enforced by an action
in rem.

We were part of the "enforcement action" on "tax day" (how fitting), we "assisted" three gentlemen from the "un-named" Agency, (they had guns) and really big badges. They "convinced" the marina owner that we would be taking the vessel one way or the other - and so it came to pass - we took "temporary" custody of the vessel, towed it 5 miles to a launch ramp where it was hauled out by a waiting tractor trailer and removed. Custody was turned over to the designated broker for holding - - - - -.

It has been said (and written) on many occasions, pointed out by numerous legal types and lawyers that "Admiralty Jurisdiction" DOES NOT APPLY on Lake of the Ozarks - - well - - - lets toss that one up in the air again - - - - there's a FEDERAL JUDGE in the Western District who thinks otherwise?????????? I would like to hear from some of you "Sea Lawyers" what do you think - - -??


Douglas Gould said...

have you read that article on salcon yet?

that lawyer makes a convincing argument that Admiralty applies in lakes and in all 50 states.

Evan Hanson said...

Charles after a little research I think I've discovered the basis of the judges order. Thanks for pointing out this story.

Maritime Lawyer said...

Interesting case. I also wonder what the maritime lawyers have to say about this.