Maritime Group Secures Default Judgment in Collision Case

On July 16, 2016, the M/V Charleston was traveling upriver on the Kanawha River near St. Albans, West Virginia when an approaching 30-foot pleasure craft, traveling at a high rate of speed, made a sudden and unforeseen course change, steering directly into the bow of the M/V Charleston’s tow.  The pleasure craft collided with one or more barges at the head of the tow, with the side of the towing vessel, and ultimately crashed into a nearby marina.  Investigation revealed the driver of the pleasure craft suffered severe injuries as a result of the collision.  In addition, several other pleasure craft docked at the marina sustained property damage.  SMBP subsequently filed a Complaint for Exoneration and/or Limitation of Liability in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of Amherst Madison, owner of the M/V Charleston.  SMBP secured a Restraining Order and Order Ad Interim, which established a claim deadline of January 9, 2017.  After providing notice to all potential claimants, no claims were filed.  As a result, SMBP filed a Motion for Default Judgment, which was granted by the Court.  Less than one year following the casualty, Amherst Madison has the peace of mind of knowing that no claims will result from the collision.