More than 30 insurers that have paid an estimated $39 million in lost cargo claims, along with cargo owners without insurance, have asked the courts to seize and sell the Japanese vessel ONE Apus to cover their claims.
The insurers say the vessel owner breached its maritime contract to deliver goods safely from Yantian, China and other foreign ports to Long Beach, California and other U.S. destinations.
The plaintiffs’ filing in the federal district court for Southern New York contends the vessel is in the New York area presently “or will be so while the action is pending.” They are asking that the vessel be seized, sold and the proceeds used to reimburse them for their losses.
According to the court filing, on or about November 30, 2020, approximately 1,800 containers aboard the ONE Apus broke free and went overboard into the Pacific Ocean, and many hundreds more were damaged. According to its owners, the ship rolled when it encountered severe weather near Hawaii. Thereafter, the vessel diverted to Kobe, Japan, for repairs for four months, during which time the plaintiffs contend more containers were damaged and lost.
The insurers and other plaintiffs said the vessel owner refused to allow them access to their shipments, and failed to provide any material information regarding their condition.
The vessel sailed from Kobe to California, in March 2021. The shipments that had not gone overboard were finally discharged at the ports of Los Angeles/ Long Beach, California, on or about April 12, 2021 but, according to the complaint ,they were in “bad order and condition.”
The insurers and intermediaries seeking reimbursement include Continental, Affiliated FM, Allianz Global, China Pacific, Falvey Cargo, Fubon, Hanover Insurance, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance US, Munich Re, RLI, Sompo International ad Zurich North America.
The number of shipping containers lost at sea rose during weather-related incidents during the winter of 2020-2021, the World Shipping Council said in its Containers Lost at Sea report. In 2021, the Maersk Essen, which also experienced severe weather, lost about 750 containers.
Consultants at WK Webster are among the claims experts that have been handling and reporting on the ONE Apus claims situation, including using drones to survey damage and movement of cargo. Some of the containers carried fireworks, batteries and liquid ethanol, WK Webster said in early reports.
Other insurers including Travelers, Liberty Mutual, Starr and XL and other companies have also filed lawsuits stemming from the ONE Apus accident, according to Insurance Marine News. Among the other suits is a consolidated case in the same federal district court of Southern New York.
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