MARTIN ENERGY SERVICES LLC V M/V BRAVANTE IX ET AL
United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Panama City Division, United States District Judge Robert Hinkle
Insolvency - Bunker supplier seeking to enforce a maritime lien against shipowner - Contract for the supply of bunkers made at the point of delivery - Physical supplier had acquired a maritime lien - Quantum meruit - Interpleader proceedings - Federal Maritime Lien Act, 46 USC paras 31341-43
The owner of the vessel Bravante VIII had arranged for fuel using the brokerage services of OW Brazil. OW had, by a chain of contracts through a series of affiliated OW companies, arranged for Martin Energy Services (MES), a company based in Alabama, to provide the bunkers. Bar the insolvency, MES would have invoiced OW USA, and OW Middle East would have invoiced the shipowner. MES worked closely with the shipowner in supplying the bunkers. Before transferring the bunkers, MES tendered a bunkering certificate for signature. The certificate had contractual features, referring to MES's standard terms and asserting a maritime lien against the vessel. Following MES's arrest of the sister vessel Bravante IX, MES and ING Bank - which was entitled to collect OWs receivables outside the bankruptcy - asserted competing claims to the amount deposited for her release.
The judge held as follows.
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