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THOMAS v. UNITED STATES LINES

February 11, 1974

Edward THOMAS et al.
v.
UNITED STATES LINES, INC.


Bechtle, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE

BECHTLE, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is defendant's motion to transfer this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the Southern District of New York. For reasons hereinafter enumerated, the motion will be granted.

 Plaintiffs are nineteen crew members who served aboard the S.S. AMERICAN AQUARIUS, a vessel owned and operated by defendant. On April 20, 1973, the S.S. AMERICAN AQUARIUS and the S.S. ATLANTIC HOPE, a vessel owned by Pacific Bulk Carriers, Inc., collided near the port of Kobe, Japan. The injuries allegedly sustained by all of the plaintiffs are said to have occurred as a result of the aforesaid collision. United States Lines, Inc., relies on the following relevant facts in support of its motion to transfer:

 (1) Although plaintiffs are citizens and residents of various states, eight of the nineteen plaintiffs reside in or near New York City, New York.

 (2) Defendant is a corporation which has its principal place of business in New York City, New York.

 (3) All of the plaintiffs signed aboard the vessel at New York City on or about March 11, 1973. During the course of the voyage in question, the vessel at no time entered the port of Philadelphia.

 (4) Several of the named plaintiffs have received medical attention at facilities located in New York City.

 (5) On July 20, 1973, Pacific Bulk Carriers, Inc., as owners of the S.S. ATLANTIC HOPE, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York claiming exoneration or limitation of liability, and on July 20, 1973, the Honorable Morris E. Lasker of that Court entered an Order admonishing all persons who would assert claims with respect to the collision to file their respective claims with the Clerk of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and restraining, staying and enjoining prosecution of any action or suit against the owners of the S.S. ATLANTIC HOPE except in the action pending in the Southern District of New York.

 (6) In this suit, the respective plaintiffs are contending that they sustained various personal injuries as the alleged result of negligence of United States Lines, Inc., and unseaworthiness of the S.S. AMERICAN AQUARIUS, which allegedly caused the collision at Kobe, Japan.

 (7) One of the primary defenses of United States Lines, Inc., in connection with these suits is that the accident was not caused by negligence of the United States Lines, Inc., or by any unseaworthiness of its vessel but, on the contrary, was caused by the sole negligence of the owners of the S.S. ATLANTIC HOPE. In these circumstances, United States Lines, Inc., would ordinarily proceed to join the owners of the S.S. ATLANTIC HOPE as third-party defendant in these actions seeking to have them found solely reliable for the incident, or at least liable over to the defendant in indemnity or contribution.

 (8) In view of the Order of Judge Lasker, which enjoins any proceedings against the owners of the S.S. ATLANTIC HOPE outside the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the defendant cannot join them as parties to the actions pending in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 (9) The limitation proceeding in the Southern District of New York will result in a trial between the owners of both vessels to determine the responsibility for the collision as between the two vessels involved. This cannot be done in the pending actions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, because the owners of one of the vessels cannot be joined here as a party.

 (10) Defendant is a party in the proceedings pending in the Southern District of New York, and it would be most inconvenient and unnecessarily expensive for it to litigate the ...


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