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United States v. Bear Marine Servs.

Citation: 11 ELR 20659
No. No. 79-3331, 509 F. Supp. 710/15 ERC 1953/(E.D. La., 12/18/1980)

In an action in which the United States seeks to recover the expenses of cleaning up an oil spill under § 311 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the court rules that the owner of a dolphin which contributed to the spill may be liable to the government under general maritime law. Although the owner of the dolphin cannot be liable under §§ 311(f) or (g) of the Act, § 311(h)(2) preserves the government's rights to recover from such a third party on other legal grounds. The court notes, however, that the third party's liability may be limited by comparative negligence offset and by the Limitation of Liability Act. Since under general maritime law the dolphin owner's liability to the government for cleanup costs may be established, its motion to dismiss must be denied.

Counsel for the United States
Leonard P. Avery, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Hale Boggs Fed. Bldg., 500 Camp St., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 589-2921

Thomas W. Snook
Civil Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7317

Counsel for International Matex Terminals
William E. O'Neil, Mark L. Ross
Lemle, Kelleher, Kohlmeyer & Matthews
1800 First Nat'l Bank of Commerce Bldg., New Orleans LA 70112
(504) 586-1241