Little White Dove LLC v. Calugan et al
Order on Motion to Stay
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF ALASKA
IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT OF
LITTLE WHITE DOVE, LLC, an Alaska
Limited Liability Company, Owner of the
F/V LITTLE WHITE DOVE, Official
Number 607001, for Exoneration From or
Limitation of Liability,
OPINION AND ORDER
I. MOTION PRESENTED
At docket 19, claimants Denise Paula Calugun, in her capacity of Personal
Representative of the Estate of Daniel Raymond Roehl, and Kasie Gunderson in her
capacity as mother and next friend of the minor child Nicole Gunderson (“Claimants”)
ask the court to lift the stay imposed in this Limitation Action. The motion has been fully
briefed. Oral argument was not requested and would not be of assistance to the court.
It appears from the complaint in this matter that on February 5, 2004, the F/V
Little White Dove burned at its mooring at Sand Point, Alaska. Claimants have claims
based upon the death of Daniel Raymond Roehl which resulted from the fire. The
purported owner of the vessel, Little White Dove, LLC, filed a complaint for exoneration
from or limitation of liability pursuant to the statutes governing the limitation of vessel
owners’ liability.1 The owner posted a $1,000 bond representing more than the nil value
46 U.S.C. §§ 181, et seq.
asserted for the burned vessel and her freight. This court issued an injunction
preventing the prosecution of claims against the owner in any other court.
In seeking relief from that order, Claimants assert that they are asserting a single
claim and that as a single claimant they have provided all the assurances necessary to
the lifting of the injunction. Plaintiff contends that contrary to Claimants’ assertion, there
really are two separate claims, a claim for loss to the Estate and a claim for loss of
consortium by the daughter.
Even if Claimants present a single claim, they have not met the requirements for
relief from the injunction. In this circuit, a single claimant is required to do certain things
to secure relief. In the case of In Re Complaint of Ross Island Sand & Gravel, the Ninth
Before the district court dissolves its injunction, however, a claimant
“must” stipulate to the following: (1) that the value of the limitation
fund equals the combined value of the vessel and its cargo;
(2) waive the right to claim res judicata based on any judgment
rendered against the vessel owner outside of the limitation
proceedings; and (3) concede the district court’s exclusive
jurisdiction to determine limitation of liability issues.2
Here, Claimants have not stipulated that the value of the limitation fund equals the value
of the vessel and her freight. It was the absence of precisely that stipulation which
caused the appellate court to affirm the district court’s decision not to lift the injunction in
the Ross Island case. Here, Claimants contend convincingly that the rule followed in
Ross Island is unfair and unnecessary. However, while the Ross Island court itself
seemed receptive to just such an argument, that court held that it was bound by the
earlier decision in Newton v. Shipman3 to apply the rule set forth in the quotation above.
This court lacks the authority to ignore the Newton/Ross Island rule.
In Re Complaint of Ross Island Sand & Gravel, 226 F.3d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 2000)
citing Newton v. Shipman, 718 F.2d 959, 962 (9th Cir. 1983).
718 F.2d 959 (9th Cir. 1983).
Treating the Claimants as having two separate claims4 does not alter the
outcome. The existence of multiple claimants cannot logically eliminate the need for a
stipulation as to the adequacy of the limitation fund. It would, however, as indeed
Claimants themselves point out,5 require a further stipulation as to the priority of the
multiple claimants with respect to the fund.
Whether or not the rule set out in Newton is “bad law,” as well argued by
Claimants here and as explicitly suggested in the concurring opinion in Ross Island,6
this court is bound to apply the rule established by the appellate court. When the rule is
applied, the motion at docket 19 is seen to be without merit.
For the reasons above, the motion at docket 19 is DENIED.
DATED at Anchorage, Alaska, this 16th day of June 2006.
JOHN W. SEDWICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
For the reasons outlined and based on the authorities cited in plaintiff’s Opposition at
docket 24, the court concludes two separate claims are presented.
Claimants’ Reply, doc. 27.
226 F.3d 1018 (concurrence by Judge D. W. Nelson).
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