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Tillery, Rice, Kirk, and Fischer Win Maritime Case
September 11, 2017

In a matter on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jeff R. Tillery, C. Barrett RiceHeather L. Kirk, and Madeleine "Nikko" Fischer prevailed on a matter of first impression in the U.S. Fifth Circuit. The litigation team represented a marine towing company and the underlying proceedings involved a vessel collision and subsequent oil spill on the Lower Mississippi River in Louisiana. Subsequent to the spill, the owner of the vessel/source of discharge was named the “Responsible Party” for the spill pursuant to the Oil Pollution Act and incurred substantial costs for remediation and the settlement of third party claims, including claims for purely economic damages as permitted by OPA. The Eastern District of Louisiana apportioned fault among the parties with the client bearing 35% of fault. The District Court further confirmed the client’s right to seek contribution pursuant to OPA from the co-tortfeasor, including costs expended in satisfaction action of claims for purely economic damages. On appeal of both the apportionment of fault and the recoverability in contribution of costs expended in satisfying the claims for purely economic damages, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment in full in favor of the client. The case confirms the right of the Oil Pollution Act “Responsible Party” to proceed against third party tortfeasors in contribution for all damages, including third party claims for purely economic damages.