Gulf Marine Fabricators, LP v. The ATP Innovator et al
ORDER denying without prejudice 39 Motion to Intervene.(Signed by Magistrate Judge B Janice Ellington) Parties notified.(mserpa, 2)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
CORPUS CHRISTI DIVISION
GULF MARINE FABRICATORS, LP,
THE ATP INNOVATOR, et al,
April 06, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:16-CV-430
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE
MOTION TO INTERVENE
ARSC Energy Services Omega LLC (Omega) filed a motion to intervene (D.E.
39). After considering the motion, the response, reply, and the evidence, Omega’s
motion to intervene is DENIED without prejudice.
In October 2016 Gulf Marine Fabricators, LP (Gulf Marine) filed suit in rem
against the ATP Innovator and in personam against the remaining defendants to recover
monies due for services to the ATP Innovator at layberth. Gulf Marine obtained a
warrant for the arrest of the ATP Innovator and requests its sale.
Defendants challenged the status of the ATP Innovator as a vessel.
undersigned found that the ATP Innovator is not a vessel and recommended that the
motion to vacate the arrest be granted by Memorandum and Recommendation dated
December 14, 2016. Gulf Marine objected to the recommendation. Following a hearing
before the District Court, a decision on the merits of the motion to vacate has been stayed
for at least sixty (60) days so that the parties can conduct jurisdictional discovery (D.E.
Omega seeks to intervene in rem to protect its recently acquired mortgage secured
by the ATP Innovator from Gulf Marine’s claims. Omega also seeks to protect its rights
under the Louisiana Oil Well Lien Act which derive from a suit filed in the Eastern
District of Louisiana, Docket No. 2:13-cv-04985 against ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP.
That case was administratively closed in July 2014 pending the resolution of ATP Oil &
Gas Corporation’s bankruptcy. Omega also filed an adversary suit in the bankruptcy
proceedings, Cause No. 4:14-3301, and a separate suit in the District Court of San
Patricio County that was removed to the District Court in the Southern District of Texas,
Cause No. 2:14-CV-448. The District Court dismissed Cause No. 2:14-CV-448 in April
2015 on first to file grounds in favor of suit in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The
Bankruptcy Court similarly dismissed the adversary proceeding in March 2016.
Gulf Marine did not respond to the motion in intervention. Defendants Amerindo
Services Ltd. and Blue Sky Langsta Ltd. oppose Omega’s intervention on multiple
grounds: 1) the in rem claim is procedurally deficient because it is not verified, 2)
Omega has not provided evidence that it is the real party in interest to assert its mortgage,
3) if the ATP Innovator is determined not to be a vessel no preferred maritime mortgage
exists, and 4) Omega’s Louisiana lien claims against ATP Oil & Gas should not be
adjudicated in this proceeding because the facts and law are different and will delay and
increase the costs of the current litigation (D.E. 45). After Amerindo and Blue Sky
pointed out that Omega’s Complaint in Intervention was not verified, Omega cured its
procedural defect by filing a proposed verified complaint in intervention (D.E. 46-2) with
A. Intervention as of Right
Rule 24 provides for intervention as set out below:
(a) Intervention of Right. On timely motion, the court must permit anyone
to intervene who:
(1) is given an unconditional right to intervene by a federal
(2) claims an interest relating to the property or transaction
that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that
disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or
impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless
existing parties adequately represent that interest.
(b) Permissive Intervention.
(1) In General. On timely motion, the court may permit
anyone to intervene who:
(A) is given a conditional right to intervene by a
federal statute; or
(B) has a claim or defense that shares with the
main action a common question of law or fact.
Id. It is well established that an intervenor who does not establish each of the four
elements for intervention of right, may not intervene on that basis. Thurman v. Fed. Dep.
Ins. Corp., 889 F.2d 1441, 1444 (5th Cir. 1989); Kneeland v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic
Ass’n, 806 F.2d 1285, 1287 (5th Cir. 1987).
This suit was filed in October 2016. Omega’s motion to intervene was filed on
February 8, 2017, a month after the Scheduling Order was issued and before any
discovery took place. Omega’s mortgage assignment became effective on January 18,
2017. The intervention is timely.
Omega claims that it is the assignee of a preferred maritime mortgage secured by
the ATP Innovator, the res. Although Omega is a stranger to the dispute between Gulf
Maine and the defendants, it has an interest in the res that it argues is superior to that of
Gulf Marine. Omega provided a copy of the signed assignment of the mortgage as an
exhibit to its reply. See D.E. 46-1.1 Omega has an interest in the transaction that Gulf
Marine seeks—the sale of the ATP Innovator.
If the ATP Innovator is sold in this suit, as Gulf Marine claims it should be, and
Omega is not a party, its preferred maritime mortgage would be impaired or impeded.
Gulf Marine, which has a competing claim, would not adequately represent Omega’s
Omega has established the four requirements for intervention as of right if the
ATP Innovator is a vessel.
If the ATP Innovator is not a vessel, Omega has not
established that its interests will be impaired or impeded.
B. Permissive Intervention
Amerindo and Blue Sky also object to Omega’s motion to intervene pursuant to Rule
24(b) based on the evidentiary difficulties in determining whether Omega’s predecessor
Amerindo and Blue Sky complain that Omega is not a real party in interest because it has not
established that its assignment is registered with the Secretary of Transportation pursuant to 46
U.S.C. § 31322(a)(2). Amerindo and Blue Sky are the borrowers of the funds secured by the
ATP Innovator. “A bill of sale, conveyance, mortgage, assignment, or related instrument . . . that
includes any part of a documented vessel . . . must be filed with the Secretary to be valid, to the
extent the vessel is involved, against any person except—(A) the grantor, mortgagor, or assignor
. . . and (C) a person having actual notice of the sale, conveyance, mortgage, or related
instrument.” 46 U.S.C. § 31321(a). ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP assigned their First
Preferred Mortgage to Omega, effective January 18, 2017. D.E. 40-1.
obtained a valid maritime lien against the Innovator and ATP Partners. Amerindo, Blue
Sky and Gulf Marine acknowledge that Omega is an interested party. D.E. 28, 32.
If the ATP Innovator is not a vessel, Omega’s and Gulf Marine’s claims lie in
contract. The issue then becomes whether Omega has a claim or defense that shares a
common question of law or fact with the main action. Omega does not. Omega can
assert its own contract claims against the defendants in a separate action. See Howse v.
S/V Canada Goose I, 641 F.2d 317322-23 (5th Cir. 1981) (unit B).
Omega’s motion to intervene (D.E. 39) is DENIED without prejudice at this time
based upon the recommendation that the warrant for arrest be vacated. However, if the
District Court sustains Gulf Marine’s objections to the recommendation and finds the
ATP is a vessel, Omega may re-file its motion to intervene.
ORDERED this 6th day of April, 2017.
B. JANICE ELLINGTON
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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