In Re: AEP River Operations LLC et al
ORDER re: 30 Motion to Clarify or, if necessary, to amend the limitation injunction. The motion to clarify is granted, as set out. The motion to amend the injunction limitation is denied as moot. Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 8/5/2013. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
IN RE: THE MATTER OF THE
COMPLAINT OF AEP RIVER
OPERATIONS LLC, etc., et al.,
PRAYING FOR EXONERATION
FROM OR LIMITATION OF
) CIVIL ACTION 13-0321-WS-C
Claimants Hiram and Althea Erickson have filed a “motion to clarify or, if
necessary, to amend the limitation injunction.” (Doc. 30). They seek clarification
that the limitation injunction entered by the Court, (Doc. 19), does not stay their
claims in state court against the captain of the plaintiffs’ vessel and a land-based
alleged joint tortfeasor. Should the Court disagree, they seek modification of the
order to so limit the scope of the injunction. (Doc. 30 at 6).
The provision at issue reads as follows:
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the beginning of or
prosecution of any and all suits, actions or legal proceedings of
any nature and description whatsoever against Limitation
Complainants, its insurers or underwriters or the M/V SAFETY
RUNNER, or against any property of Limitation Complainants,
except in these proceedings, in respect of any claims arising out
or consequent upon or connected with any loss, damage, death,
injury or destruction resulting from the matter referred to in the
Complaint be, and they are hereby, stayed, enjoined and restrained
until the hearing and determination of this action, and all warrants
of vessel arrest and/or attachment issued or sought in such other suits,
actions or legal proceedings be and the same are hereby dissolved and
further warrants of vessel arrest and or attachment are hereby prohibited
(Doc. 19 at 3 (emphasis added)). This language unambiguously limits the persons
and entities protected by the injunction to the Limitation Complainants. The order
unambiguously reflects that the Limitation Complainants are, unsurprisingly, those
who filed the limitation complaint, i.e., AEP River Operations, LLC, and Russell
Flowers, Inc. (Id. at 1).
The Erickson claimants do not question this obvious construction, but they
fear the limitation plaintiffs have injected uncertainty by representing to the state
court that the injunction runs in favor of “the AEP interests.” (Doc. 30 at 2-4).
But the very document that concerns the Erickson claimants explicitly identifies
“the AEP interests” as AEP River Operations, LLC and J. Russell Flowers, Inc.,
(Doc. 30, Exhibit A). The limitation plaintiffs plainly have not suggested that the
stay runs in favor of “AEP interests” beyond themselves.
The Erickson claimants’ state lawsuit includes as plaintiffs ORCA, Inc. and
Finley Fraser, Jr. (Doc. 30, Exhibit A at 1). The limitation plaintiffs’ notice to the
state court of the limitation injunction entered herein concludes that “this matter is
stayed until such time as the Limitation Complaint of the AEP interests is heard or
the present Limitation stay is lifted.” (Id. at 2). The Erickson claimants believe
“this matter” could be understood as a representation to the state court that their
entire lawsuit, even as pursued against ORCA and Fraser, is stayed by the Court’s
injunction. (Doc. 30 at 4). The injunction, however, is by its terms limited to
legal proceedings “against Limitation Complainants” and does not encompass
claims against any other person or entity. The Court assumes the limitation
plaintiffs did not intend to suggest otherwise.
For the reasons set forth above, the motion to clarify is granted, and the
order is clarified as set forth above. The motion to amend the injunction limitation
is denied as moot.
DONE and ORDERED this 5th day of August, 2013.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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