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Breathwit Marine Contrs., Ltd. v. Deloach Marine Servs., LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division

January 16, 2014

BREATHWIT MARINE CONTRACTORS, LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
DELOACH MARINE SERVICES, LLC, et al, Defendants

Page 846

For Breathwit Marine Contractors, Ltd., Plaintiff: Thomas R Nork, LEAD ATTORNEY, Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown, L.L.P., Houston, TX; Cameron Hatzel, Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown, Houston, TX.

For Deloach Marine Services, LLC, Defendant: Aaron Greenbaum, LEAD ATTORNEY, Johnson Johnson Barrios Yacoubian, New Orleans, LA; Salvador J Pusateri, Johnson Johnson et al, New Orleans, LA.

For TZE LLC, Defendant: Salvador J Pusateri, Johnson Johnson et al, New Orleans, LA.

For Deloach Marine Services, LLC, TZE LLC, Counter Claimants: Salvador J Pusateri, Johnson Johnson et al, New Orleans, LA.

For Breathwit Marine Contractors, Ltd., Counter Defendant: Thomas R Nork, LEAD ATTORNEY, Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown, L.L.P., Houston, TX; Cameron Hatzel, Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown, Houston, TX.

For Deloach Marine Services, LLC, Counter Claimant: Aaron Greenbaum, LEAD ATTORNEY, Johnson Johnson Barrios Yacoubian, New Orleans, LA; Salvador J Pusateri, Johnson Johnson et al, New Orleans, LA.

OPINION

Page 847

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Gregg Costa, United States District Judge.

This maritime collision case presents an issue on which surprisingly little case law exists within the Fifth Circuit: if a vessel begins a journey in Texas, and then commits a tort in another forum (in this case Louisiana), does the case " arise out of or relate to" the defendant's Texas contacts so that personal jurisdiction exists in this forum?

I. Background

Plaintiff Breathwit Marine Contractors, Ltd. is a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Galveston County. Breathwit is a marine towing company that provides cargo transportation services on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterways. Defendant Deloach Marine Services, L.L.C. is a Louisiana limited liability company with its principal place of business in Port Allen, Louisiana. Deloach is also in the inland towing business and operates eleven tugboats in and around Texas.

The dispute in this lawsuit arises from a maritime collision between the companies' towing vessels: Breathwit's M/V ALEX B and Deloach's M/V SALLIE ANN. In July 2012, the SALLIE ANN embarked from its home port in Houston,[1] pushing three barges and cargo owned by Texas-based Kirby Inland Marine eastward through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. At the same time, the ALEX B was pushing two barges westward through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The two vessels crossed paths near a sharp bend located at approximately Mile 161 on the Waterway in Vermillion Parish, Louisiana.

Nearing the bend, the ALEX B's Master used the designated radio frequency to indicate his ...


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