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Coastal Marine Management v. M/V Sea Hunter O.N. 598425

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 14, 2017

Coastal Marine Management d/b/a Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, Plaintiff,
v.
M/V Sea Hunter O.N. 598425, Sea Hunters LP and Gregory Brooks, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.

         Here we have a dispute about the sale at auction of a deeply indebted vessel, the M/V Sea Hunter (O.N. 598425). The purported owner of the Vessel, Gregory Brooks, and Sea Hunters LP (collectively, “defendants”), allegedly failed to make payments to Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina (“BHS” or “plaintiff”) for the storage and removal of rubbish from the subject vessel, causing BHS to incur a lien for necessaries against the vessel.

         In January, 2017, BHS filed a motion for 1) interlocutory sale of the vessel and 2) permission to credit bid up to the amount of the indebtedness of the Vessel. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be, with respect to plaintiff's request for interlocutory sale, allowed, but will be, with respect to its request for the right to credit bid, denied.

         1. Background

         In or about 2008, Gregory Brooks and Sea Hunters LP entered into a maritime contract with BHS specifying that BHS would provide “necessaries” to the M/V Sea Hunter by storing and removing rubbish from it. In exchange, Brooks and Sea Hunters agreed to pay BHS $1, 833 per month for the service. Since March 2, 2015, BHS has not, however, received payment from Brooks and Sea Hunters despite repeated demands. Currently, BHS possesses a maritime lien on the vessel for the provision of “Necessaries and Services” through July, 2016, in the amount of $33, 899.94 plus interest and costs.[1]

         In August, 2016, BHS filed a two-count complaint against Brooks and Sea Hunters LP for 1) enforcement of its maritime lien for necessaries against the subject vessel and 2) breach of maritime contract against Brooks and Sea Hunters LP. In October, 2016, Brooks filed an answer to the complaint but did not deny the factual allegations.

         That same month, the United States Marshals served an in rem warrant on the vessel and arrested it. This Court subsequently appointed BHS custodian of the vessel which has remained in its custody and has continued to incur costs.

         Several parties have filed statements of claim against, or interest in, the M/V Sea Hunter. Specifically, Additional Return, LLC (“Additional Return”) has asserted a claim or interest in the vessel on the grounds that it has several “preferred ship mortgages” against the vessel totaling approximately $430, 000.

         In January, 2017, plaintiff moved for interlocutory sale of the vessel and for the right to credit bid up to the amount of the indebtedness of the vessel at such sale. Additional Return objects. This memorandum addresses the pending motion and objections thereto.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for Interlocutory Sale and for an Order Granting It the Right to Credit Bid up to the Amount of the Indebtedness of the Vessel and its Owner

         A. Legal Standards

         1. Interlocutory Sale

         Pursuant to the Supplemental Rules of Civil Procedure, a district court may order the sale of an arrested property if:

(A) the attached or arrested property is perishable, or liable to deterioration, decay or injury by being detained in custody pending the action;
(B) the expense of keeping the property is excessive or disproportionate; or
(C) there is an unreasonable delay in securing release of the ...

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