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World Fuel Services Trading, DMCC v. M/V Hebel Shijiazhuang

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

April 9, 2014

WORLD FUEL SERVICES TRADING, DMCC, D/B/A BUNKERFUELS, Plaintiff,
v.
M/V HEBEI SHIJIAZHUANG, HER ENGINES, TACKLE, EQUIPMENT, APPURTENANCES, ETC., IN REM, Defendant,
v.
HEBEI PRINCE SHIPPING COMPANY, LTD, Claimant

Page 811

For World Fuel Services Trading, DMCC, doing business as Bunkerfuels, Plaintiff: Dustin Mitchell Paul, Mark T. Coberly, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Vandeventer Black LLP, Norfolk, VA.

For M/V HEBEI SHIJIAZHUANG, her engines, tackle, equipment, appurtenances, etc., in rem, Defendant: James L. Chapman, IV, LEAD ATTORNEY, Steven Michael Stancliff, Crenshaw Ware & Martin PLC, Norfolk, VA.

For HEIBEI PRINCE SHIPPING COMPANY, LTD., Claimant: James L. Chapman, IV, LEAD ATTORNEY, Steven Michael Stancliff, Crenshaw Ware & Martin PLC, Norfolk, VA.

For T. Parker Host, Inc., Claimant: Barry Jason Barlow, John Early Holloway, Troutman Sanders LLP, Norfolk, VA.

OPINION

Page 812

Mark S. Davis, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court following a hearing on April 8, 2014, which was conducted to resolve the damages issues remaining after the Court granted summary judgment to World Fuel Services Trading, DMCC, d/b/a Bunkerfuels (" Plaintiff" ), entitling Plaintiff to a maritime lien. ECF No. 97. For the reasons discussed below, the Court awards Plaintiff prejudgment interest at the prime rate, accruing as of November 28, 2012, the date payment was due, until April 4, 2014, the date agreed upon by the parties and the date the Court entered summary judgment.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

As discussed in greater detail in the Court's April 4, 2014 Opinion and Order, Tramp Maritime Enterprises Ltd. (" Tramp" ) chartered the M/V HEBEI SHIJIAZHUANG (" the vessel" ) from Hebei Prince Shipping Company, Ltd. (" Claimant" ). During Tramp's third consecutive time charter, Tramp placed an order with Plaintiff, through its broker, Bunkerfuels Hellas, for fuel bunkers to be delivered to the vessel on or about October 27, 2012. Bunkerfuels Hellas sent a bunker confirmation to Tramp, confirming the order and incorporating Plaintiff's " general terms and conditions" (" General Terms" ), located at www.wfscorp.com. Compl. Ex. 3, ECF No. 1-3. Plaintiff's General Terms provided that " [p]ast due amounts shall accrue interest at a rate equal to the lesser of 2.0 percent per month, or the maximum rate permitted by applicable law." ECF No. 1-5 at 5. In addition, the General Terms provided for a " 5% administrative fee" on " amounts more than 15 days past due," and indicated " Buyer['s] agree[ment] to pay . . . internal and external attorneys fees associated with enforcing a maritime lien." Id. The bunker confirmation stated that the payment terms would be " 30 DDD by TTT," id., which the parties agree indicated that payment would be due on November 28, 2012.[1]

Tramp failed to pay for the fuel bunkers and, on April 4, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Verified Complaint with the Court, requesting that the vessel be arrested upon arrival in the Eastern District of Virginia. The Court granted Plaintiff's request and the vessel was arrested on or about April 8, 2013. On April 10, 2013, Plaintiff and Claimant agreed, by joint stipulation, that Plaintiff would release the vessel from arrest in exchange for a cash bond deposited by Claimant with the Court in the amount of $850,000. ECF No. 11.

On April 4, 2014, the Court granted summary judgment to Plaintiff, finding, " as a matter of law, that Plaintiff is entitled to a maritime lien against the vessel." ECF No. 97 at 34. However, the Court reserved judgment on the following damages issues indicated in the March 27, 2014 final pretrial order: " ...


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