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Louisiana ex rel. Guste v. M/V Testbank

Citation: 12 ELR 20379
No. Nos. 80-2738 et al., 524 F. Supp. 1170/16 ERC 1724/(E.D. La., 10/28/1981)

The court rules that among a group of plaintiffs seeking to recover in maritime tort for indirect economic losses resulting from the closure of portions of Louisiana waterways to navigation and commercial fishing due to defendants' spill of toxic chemicals, only commercial fishermen who routinely operated in the closed areas can maintain an action. Negligent interference with contract rights or business expectations is generally not actionable except by persons whose property suffers physical damage. However, although commercial fishermen have no individual property rights in the aquatic life, they fall within a special class whose economic interests are entitled to the fullest legal protection in admiralty. They can recover for tortious invasion of commercial fishing areas resulting from the introduction of pollutants. The court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment as to commercial fishermen fishing in waters closed as a result of the collision.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Christopher A. Helms
Gelpi, Sullivan, Carroll & Laborde
Suite 934, One Shell Sq., New Orleans LA 70139
(504) 524-9714

Thomas J. Grace
Courtenay, Forstall & Grace
730 Camp St., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 566-1801

Counsel for Defendants
J. Dwight LeBlanc Jr.
Chaffe, McCall, Phillips, Toler & Sarpy
1500 First Nat'l Bank of Commerce Bldg., New Orleans LA 70112
(504) 568-1320

Walter Carroll Jr.
Terriberry, Carroll, Yancey & Farrell
2100 Int'l Trade Mart Bldg., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 523-6451