Prof A.M. Costabel

Final Examination - Fall 1996



Please open your examination" questions only after reading these instructions.

Reading these instructions will not count against your examination time.

Dear Students,

Sorry I cannot be here with you today (though, rest assured, I will be in my thoughts and prayers).

You have 11 questions, testing practically all the areas we have covered during the term.

All topics of the questions have been reviewed in class, some many times, so there should be no surprise.

I have allocated blank lines for you to fill after each question. The questions are short but contain generally, multiple issues, and are susceptible of long answers. Some are based on factual patterns, some require regurgitation of academic notions. You may not have sufficient time to write all dud you would or could, given the time constraints of the exam.

Therefore, I strongly suggest that you follow my recommendations given in class: spot the major issues (what I called the "Main Frame" issues) and then decompose each main frame into relevant sub-issues, in order of importance and structure. For each question, please give the end result with the fundamental legal and logical support, quoting case names in short form, as appropriate.

I also recommend that you use this method to answer all questions, because this will prove that you have achieved a global comprehension and maturity of all the materials. Only after you have completed this task, and if you have time left, you may enlarge into further details, using the blue books supplied and quoting the answer number.

In this connection, again, premium is put more on the "big picture" (all questions answered and then "expanded" in a schematic but orderly and complete way) then on extensive and complex answer to a limited amount of questions. You will not have time to write a treatise on each topic, therefore try again to cleverly organize this additional exercise by beginning to write a little additional material for each question, so that possibly all or most of the questions receive expansion. If you are still left with any time, you are welcome to finish an "in-depth" essay on just one topic of your choice (more if you can ... ). The further you are able to go in this direction, the higher the grade (providing of course that correct, relevant and appropriate answers are given). All this is to be done in the blue-books, with reference to question numbers.

Some questions, as you notice, have different number of lines supplied for the answer. 'That does not mean that your answer is likewise limited. I have assigned more or less lines as a space foreseeably needed for that particular answer, but you may either use less lines or more, continuing in the same sheet or in the blue-book as you think fit.

If you are asked to make empirical evaluations, remember I do not care if your conclusion is right or wrong, so long as it is logically stated and supported by valid arguments and citation/application of proper cases and law.

Please relax, make good use of your outlines, go to your referenced bookmarks in your outline directly without wasting time, and try do your job with some fitime It works miracles.

You have been an unforgettable class. In my Country we never say "good luck"; we say "may you drop into the mouth of the wolf' (or other versions that cannot be published uncensored).

So, "into the mouth of the wolf

Question 1

A Caterpillar, loaded at Barbados for carriage to Mogadishu, is lost in transit. The carrier argues to be liable only up to $500.00. It is not known what documents, if any, have been issued for the carriage.

Is carrier right or wrong? Could it be relevant to know if any document of carriage has been issued and at what terms? If yes, why?


Question 2.


On arrival at Mogadishu, the Ship unloads the Cat onto the Ship Agents' barge without problems. The Agents, however, do not take the barge to a berth because they have been informed that warlords are coveting the Caterpillar, which would almost certainly be stolen if put ashore. At the same time, the weather center announces the imminent arrival of extremely strong monsoons. The barge is not strong enough to move at sea and the Ship Agents decide to take no action. The monsoons capsize the barge and the Cat is lost.


Receiver sues the carrier for the loss. Does the carrier have any defense?


Question 3.

"Negligence in navigation", or "Negligence in the management of the ship", is a concept found at large in General and Statutory Maritime Law. In particular, it is found in carriage of goods and in General Average.

Please describe this concept, its operations and consequences, in the above two different contexts, with a mention of historical background.


Question 4.

"Seaworthiness" is a concept found at large in General and Statutory Maritime Law. In particular, it is found in carriage of goods and in personal injury cases.

Please fully describe this concept, its operations and consequences, in the above two different contexts, with a mention of historical background.



Conflict of Laws is inextricably intertwined with Admiralty Law, due to the international nature of the subject matter. Choice of law has undergone sophisticated development in American jurisprudence, and now seems to be well settled in a composite test, widely applied in American maritime law at large.


Please name and describe this test, give brief narrative of its historical background, and mention some of the major areas where you have found the test applied within the material of this course. (If you need more space please use blue book).


 Question 6.

Sylvester Stabborne, a Sicilian immigrant, is hired by "Obscurity Cruise Lines" as a janitor to service the corporate quarters in Blue Lagoon. The cruise line is substituting all the bathrooms of all the ships in the fleet with new modular prefabricated, supplied by a factory where Sylvester had worked all his life. Because of his knowledge of the product, Sylvester is sent more and more often on board, to assist and but not as often as he would like. His dream is to become a seaman and to share in the glamorous life of high sea cruising. Although the works are often done during navigation (to save precious time), assignments in uninspiring dry docks and shipyards unfortunately become increasingly frequent, especially for the m/v "Millennium", undergoing extensive conversion in Mississippi since many months. Overcome by boredom, Sylvester goes on shore leave, and imprudently enters a Ku Klux Klan Club, believing it is a Casper souvenir outlet. The last thing he is asking the price for one little cute ghost. Sylvester is stiff hospitalized and recovery will be long, necessitating lot of cure without employment, not to mention partial permanent disability.


Sylvester has asked your advice for suing the shipowner, his employer. He heard that one seaman, name, he believes, "Jones", got a lot of money for an accident he had when temporarily assigned to do janitor work in a coal loading terminal. He was told that this Jones fella was not even injured when he was working as a janitor, let alone as a seaman, but when he was sent to buy Double Bacon Cheeseburger Meals at one Wendy's outlet within the terminal. Sylvester is convinced that, if the Jones got all that money, he too can recover a bounty.


Sylvester is obviously still under shock. Is he confusing the "Jones fella" story with some other unrelated stories? Which ones? Can you set the stories straight and tell Sylvester what of action he really has and how he qualifies?


Question 7.

Injured seaman, plaintiff in a Jones Act case, files for arrest of the ship on board of which he was injured. The ship, after the accident, has been sold twice. The last owner files appearance to challenge the request for arrest, on the grounds that: a) he had no contract with the seaman, b) the seaman's claim was unrecorded; c) the present owner is a bona fide purchaser of the ship, which he bought clear of all encumbrances.


You be the judge. Do they all know what they are doing?


 Question 8.


Ship supplier has a credit towards a ship based on contract. The credit arose 45 days ago, during the third voyage before the last (just completed). Investigations reveal that there are three competing contractual claims, one which arose during the ship's last voyage, one four months ago, and one all most one year ago. Lloyd's intelligence tells you (for a reasonable fee) that the ship is going to be in the Puget Sound range, then in the Gulf range, then in New York harbor and then in some other unspecified US range. Supplier has the possibility and the choice to arrest the ship at any US location, but has reason to fear that judicial sale of the ship would yield barely enough money to cover two credits only.


Which location would you select? Which one would you avoid? And why?


Question 9.


A small ship is caught in tropical storm few miles East of Soldier Key shallows. A big LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) carrier comes to rescue and, sheltering the small ship, takes her out of danger. The operation is quick (no more than 20 minutes) and involves minimal efforts and skills on the part of the salvor. Although salvor is an ultra modem and powerful ship, some risk of grounding exists because the large overstructures cause a strong "s"" effect in the raging winds. If let alone, the small ship, worth $90,000.00 at best, would be certainly lost. Big ship is worth 125 million dollars.


You are appointed sole Arbitrator on the issue of compensation. How much would you award, and on what criteria?


Question 10,


Ship "One? is under way in dense fog at 15 knots. She is equipped with modern computerized radar plotting, but Captain does not trust computers and keeps only manual parallel plotting. Fog opens, revealing ship "Two" closing in from starboard, forward of the beam and showing red. The Captain of ship "One" orders a quick starboard turn. The Captain of ship "Two" orders a quick port turn. Collision follows. Dispute arises on whether there is exclusive or concurrent liability and on whether damages should be split in half. The parties rely on different precedents about concurrent and supervening negligence.


How would you allocate liability?


Question 11,

A large commodities trader charterer based in Park Avenue (Manhattan) has a dispute with a Greek Shipowner, whose ships are occasionally "fixed" by a US Broker based in the Downtown Battery area. The Shipowner also has an account with Citibank at 42nd Street East. Charterer has reason to fear that Shipowner is about to close his bank account and to fold up operations. Charterer files for attachment of Shipowner's bank account, and attempts to serve process on the Broker.


Come on! Last effort. What do you make of that?